Dal lacking in crime prevention awareness?

Students are more concerned about their safety after the disappearance of Amber Kirwan.


Dalhousie student, Amber Cromwell is concerned about the safety of students around her. (Photo: Amber Cromwell)

Amber Cromwell, a 21-year-old student from Dalhousie University, is more concerned about the safety of her and other women at Dal after 19-year-old Amber Kirwan from New Glasgow - Cromwell's hometown - went missing in early October.

Cromwell says that Dal didn't do enough to spread awareness to young women about how to protect themselves against becoming a victim of crime. "I'm already terrified about walking alone in Halifax after dark... I feel like every school should make it known what happened to (Kirwan) and take it very seriously."

Kirwan's remains were found on Nov. 5 on a property in Pictou County.

The university did not run an awareness program after Kirwan went missing, or since her remains were found.

November is crime prevention month and the HRM has a prevention series hosted by the Halifax Regional Police. The series began in October and is continuing into the month of November to educate the community on how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of crime. Dalhousie University is lacking when it comes to spreading awareness to students this month -- no crime prevention programs are currently offered.

Michael Burns, director of security at Dalhousie University, says the university does its part over the academic year, rather than devoting a particular month to crime prevention.

Where is the information?

Burns says packages and brochures were sent out during orientation week that outlined safety tips to students. In October, university staff was involved in a safe walk - basically lighting and landscaping audit, seeking out any areas that may need improvement to further better student safety. Burns says that even when action is being taken, it's difficult to push awareness to students.

"Day to day we try to put out this material but it's difficult to break through the noise of everything else that is going on that (students) are being bombarded with," he says.

Cromwell agrees that most students get wrapped up in their own lives and don't think of crime prevention until they hear a story about Kirwan's. She says it's very sad that Dal security didn't issue out special action to enforce safer ways to get home, such as the services offered by tiger patrol. There was no mention of Kirwan's disappearance as a precaution.

"I mean, you think they would have for Amber's sake, make what happened to her known and get everyone aware of the seriousness of her case."

Burns says tragic cases like Kirwan's create a lot of public interest with crime prevention programming because people begin to think how their everyday lives might be impacted. He says in general, young adults think they are "invincible" and tend to believe nothing bad will happen to them.

Crime prevention tips cannot be found on the Dalhousie website--Burns says it was taken down because people were having trouble navigating it. No confirmed date was given for when the information will be reposted.

Burns has sent out security bulletins to all Dal and King's students after crimes have happened to students in the past and will continue to inform them of crimes that happen close to campus. The last bulletin was sent out Oct. 6 when a female student was physically assaulted on campus after dark. He reminded students to travel with a partner or use the shuttle bus service.

Cromwell says Kirwan's disappearance and crime prevention month were two big opportunities Dal could've used to enforce safety to students.

"It is very important to make young people aware of not only being prepared when they are walking at night, but to understand that having a plan is so important."



This article has been updated after it incorrectly mentioned previously that October was crime prevention month. November is crime prevention month in the HRM and Canada.

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