IMG_9103By Paige Siewert

The University of Saint Mary was approved for a government grant allowing them to install five security boxes around campus last week. They are wired to have a direct line to on-call security 24 hours a day.

These boxes are set up in five different locations all over campus; one by the library, one by the baseball field parking lot, one outside the greenhouse by Miege, one leading up to the football field and another outside of Berkel Hall. They are easy to use and are activated by just the push of a button.

“It’ll act both as a reassurance for anybody who is in a dire situation but also as a call out to anybody who may want to do something,” said Survivor and Victim’s Coordinator, Elizabeth Thompson. “I think this is going to make the level of security really visible on the forefront. As you’re walking you’re going to see the boxes out there. It provides that security knowing that when you hit that button, someone will be right there.”

Last October, the University of Saint Mary was approved for this three-year grant from the Department of Justice that they were given a year to prepare for. The next two years are putting the plans into action and using the funding to, “Improve and expand programming and outreach around gender-based violence at the University of Saint Mary,” said Thompson. The hope is to provide students with a how-to video in the near future as well as plenty of information on the functionality with pictures and press releases.

The emergency boxes are only the beginning. Elizabeth Thompson said, “There’s going to be a lot more stuff that we’re going to be able to do. We’re going to have a lot more programming, more events and talking more about gender-based violence and healthy relationships. How to call out and help friends who might be in bad relationships.”

The next big thing associated with this grant could come sooner rather than later. Thompson is working with campus counsellor, Tina Dunn Carpenter in hopes to host events associated with the distinguishing factors with Halloween costumes or cosplay and consent. Especially with October being domestic violence awareness month, this issue is timely and relevant.

There is a misconception about the nature of the grant, but Elizabeth Thompson clears that up by saying, “A lot of people think we got this grant and that there’s a really big problem with this on campus. It’s not necessarily that there is but heaven forbid anything does happen, we have the resources to help somebody who needs the help.” It is more for the prevention and security purposes.

Other later plans for this grant include programs for the sports teams as soon as this Spring. For the male athletes, it is a healthy masculinity program that works on coaching boys into men. For the female athletes, they hope to host a program that represents athletes as leading and breaking down the expectations for women in society.

It is always important to make sure everyone feels safe on campus and anything the school can do to help that is a win for the Saint Mary community. Keep an eye out for other new and exciting things this grant will bring to our campus!

Paige Siewert is a Senior at the University of Saint Mary studying Digital Communications.