Press Release – VUWSA
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association President Sonya Clark sends her support to the victims of this weekend’s assaults and is calling for greater action to keep students safe on campus and around Wellington.
“The assaults have shocked the student community, and come after years of warnings about safety issues in the area.”
VUWSA had raised student’s concerns about the Boyd Wilson Field pathway for a number of years. After working with Victoria University, Wellington City Council and Te Aro School, we finally saw the installation of improved LED lighting and the removal of some shrubbery in 2013.
Clark was pleased with the University’s installation of increased lighting and CCTV cameras – “a good start, but was only part of the solution.”
“It’s not just about one set of steps. Students tell us they feel unsafe around Dixon Street, Devon Street, and the many steps, pathways and alleys in Wellington after dark. A co-ordinated response between the University and the Wellington City Council is needed to improve walkways, and condemn sexual assault.”
“We want to see the introduction of ‘emergency help stations’, like the ones at Otago and Canterbury Universities, with a panic button, phone, and light attached. The introduction of a service where Campus Security walk people off campus at night is also a change VUWSA would like to see.”
Clark further emphasized the importance of not blaming victims, saying “it isn’t good enough to tell women, especially students, that they shouldn’t walk alone at night.”
“Taxis are expensive and unaffordable: it is unreasonable to expect students to catch a taxi every time they work late at the library or in town. ”
“While lighting and CCTV may act as a deterrent, assaults are not caused by a pathway, but people who hurt other people. It is those actions which must be condemned. The University and the Council must work closer with organisations like the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network to follow best practice in this area.”