Image Credit: Luke Snell
On 24 November, YUSU President, Patrick O’Donnell, outlined via Facebook a number of measures that the Union has asked the University to take in response to various instances of violence and security breaches around Halifax College over the past few weeks.
Unverified reports of violent crime including break-ins around Halifax College have circulated online, with most coming via the Instagram page @yorkmemes. The York Student Solidarity Network also released statements from Halifax residents, one claiming that “the theft and potential threat of knives was reported to security who realistically, did nothing to reassure people that we were safe…”
Patrick O’Donnell told Nouse that he has been “horrified by the images circulating online” and that he shared the anxieties of students in the wake of recent events. “I have reminded the University of the need for upfront and timely communications, and I believe the proactive solutions I proposed, which have been agreed to, will ensure the right actions are taken going forward” he said.
One of these proactive solutions is an open meeting with North Yorkshire Police, security, and local residents to ensure a “joined up and proactive response”. It is hoped that this will help to address potential weaknesses in CCTV or lighting around accommodation buildings.
In a comment below O’Donnell’s Facebook post, one student expressed concern about increased police presence on campus. When we asked O’Donnell how he responded to this, he said that “I recognise that some students may feel an increased police presence unnerving. I firmly believe a community-led approach is the best way to ensure the safety of students and local residents. Police Community Support Officers have a role to play in listening to students' concerns, as part of this approach”.
They have also asked for a college meeting with Halifax students, with a commitment to more regular updates on security and adequate wellbeing support.
Further measures will be taken to ensure that students have accurate guidance on how and when to contact campus security or emergency services. A clearer reporting system for maintenance issues that threaten security, such as broken door locks or windows that won’t close, will also be established.
YUSU have called for an increased security presence and police patrols in the Halifax area, to create physical reassurance for students.
We asked O’Donnell what advice he would give to Halifax students who are concerned about their safety. His advice was, “Students in Halifax with concerns should contact their college team directly, via email@example.com. If any student has questions they would like followed up, please get in touch and I will do my best to help.”
We will update this story once the University has provided a formal response to the events.