Why student halls feel unsafe

The Courier's Head of Current Affairs discusses why halls aren't always the safest place for a student.

Elizabeth Meade
6th December 2021
Halls aren't always the safest place. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After the recent incident at Warwick Uni, the question arises: are student halls safe?

My year in Castle Leazes was, to put it mildly, disappointing. I'll admit that attempts at 'security' were made. These included not letting me get my own mail after certain times and hesitating before reluctantly letting me have one, slightly rotten, apple because I arrived one minute after dinner had ended. I'm sure fruit theft in the UK has never been lower. While the smart card entry system to get into the building was supposed to keep intruders out, anybody could follow students through the automatic doors.

It was obvious that people were getting into Leazes who weren't residents or even students. Our hallway was always littered with advertisements for club nights, to the point I put a sign on my door telling people to stop slipping them under my door. (This was ignored. Meanwhile, I had to get special permission to put up a poster for a Student Union event, because apparently anyone critical of climate colonialism can't be trusted.) Besides being a huge waste of paper, I couldn't help but think: if these people can get in, can't anyone? I have no doubt that a motivated individual who wished to assault students could easily enter the residence.

Over time, it became clear that hall staff knew about advertisers entering and didn't care. While I was treated with disdain for wanting accessible laundry machines, nobody saw a problem with letting strangers come in to advertise to students. Although most of these people only showed up to leave flyers, it would be very simple for someone with bad intentions to enter with the pretense of distributing ads.

There was also no way to prevent violence between students. While this is always going to be a risk, the small, cramped rooms and hallways would make it difficult to avoid an assailant. With no common areas besides a few study rooms in the main building, there was nowhere to hide.

In my entire time at Castle Leazes, I couldn't help but feel that if I were assualted, staff and security wouldn't care. Given their lacklustre reaction to any and all complaints, I doubted they could do anything about crime if they couldn't even ask City Council to salt the path across the field after multiple people fell on the ice. If I were injured, I figured it would be up to me to drag myself across the field to the RVI, regardless of my condition.

Given the badly-run nature of student halls that patronizes students rather than helping them, I don't think they are a place students can feel safe. Too much attention is paid to insignificant details while broad safety measures are ignored. Private flats and accommodations have gotten around this by requiring physical keys or passcodes to enter swiftly-closing automatic doors. Physical keys are often required to enter blocks of flats as well.

While my experience only reflects one student accommodation, I am sure other university accommodations have the same or similar issues. Unless student accommodations take a more holistic approach to safety and security, students are not safe from violence.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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