Is Royal Holloway becoming unsafe?

There were six police cars around campus Wednesday night


When applying to university, we all saw the statistics about which universities were the best for student satisfaction, employability, and various other factors which influenced our decision. Royal Holloway has featured in many of them and is particularly renowned for having the safest campus in the UK.

But in the past few months, there has been an increase in anxiety regarding the safety of students, due to events in the surrounding area. Firstly there was a mini riot at the train station, and in the past few weeks there has been a noticeable influx of police cars patroling in Egham and Englefield Green. This was most likely due to the reports of frequent burglaries within Englefield Green, and then the attack of two women by St. Jude’s road. When we spoke to the police and campus security about why there was such a heavy police presence in the past few SU nights, they could not provide any information regarding the situation.

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Really?

Students are offered helpful services such as the SSHH bus to assist with getting home safely from the SU, but not all of us are keen on waiting half an hour in the cold. Many people choose to save time and money by walking home instead, but when there have been random attacks in the area and a lack of reassurance from the University about making the area feel safer, it’s no surprise we feel uneasy with the prospect of getting home.

Even walking home from the library can be daunting at night with the quiet local roads and lack of light as soon as you leave campus. Considering the number of students who remain on campus until after midnight to stay at the library, or even if they are visiting a friend on campus, a simple solution such as extending the campus bus service timetable or providing the SSHH bus on a few more nights – if there is high demand for it – would make a significant difference.

There’s also the ongoing argument for the back gate to remain open, to accommodate students living in Egham which would not only save them time on the walk home but would make them feel safer. Students have also recognised the lack of action taken, even when addressed by members of the SU.  Our welfare officer admitted recently action needed to be taken, yet nothing had been done which could actually help students feel safer or make the walk home more convenient. With incidents becoming slightly more frequent, the knowledge the uni could introduce the college card system to the back gate – to allow students to leave after 12am – would prevent a lot of unnecessary anxiety at the idea of leaving campus late.

The uni needs to acknowledge the growing concerns from students about how they can make us feel safer. If there needs to be an increase in security it’s within reason for us to expect an explanation why if our safety could potentially be at risk, and if they’re not going to tell us more information then they should at least provide a solution to ensure safety to students.