(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – University of the West Indies students are fearful for their safety following a string of violence against students in recent weeks that culminated in a bloody attack on a second year student on Tuesday.
Tuesday evening’s daylight robbery and alleged assault of the female student on the campus, they admitted on Wednesday, is weighing heavily on their minds.
Second-year psychology student Chikara Mitchell told Guardian Media, “It’s not something you want to worry about—coming to school and worrying about your safety, thinking about where you can and can’t go, always having to be with a friend.”
Her comment came even as UWI Vice Principal Prof Indar Ramnarine issued a statement to all students to “take the precautions we have continually promoted”. These precautions, Ramnarine said, include the continuous display of their student IDs while on the campus and using the shuttle service. However, students do not believe this is enough to give them a sense of security.
“They say these things occur but you don’t see them implemented,” Mitchell said.
“You can break down each one of their points and find a loophole. For one, the shuttle service is never on time…the escort service that is supposed to escort you around campus—last week one of my friends had to escort me to the bus route because no patrols were around.”
She echoed information shared by other students that this was not the first time something like this has happened.
“Interestingly enough, the same thing happened last year. They (Student Guild) had a town hall meeting where they discussed things and while things were implemented, yes admin did crack down on a few things, but it was like if we got a 2.5 steps and they were like ‘we please them enough, let’s go back to what we regularly do.’”
Final year political science student Siddeq Hosein meanwhile said he was frustrated with the way the university was treating the security issue.
“The lack of a proactive or even a reactive response from the administration to protect their biggest asset, the students, has left us to question their priorities,” Hosein told Guardian Media.
“I think the administration has been trying to sweep under the rug what’s been happening.”
Initial reports suggested that on Tuesday afternoon, a suspect attempted to sexually assault and rob a female student near the bathroom lockers at the Student Activity Centre on campus. However, the student put up a fight and her attacker slashed her on the leg with a knife before making his escape out the south gate.
The incident has sparked outrage from students and led the Guild of Students to call an emergency meeting for today to discuss the issue.
In a statement on Wednesday, however, vice principal Ramnarine confirmed a female student was robbed but denied reports she was sexually assaulted.
“Initial investigation with the student reveals no evidence of attempted or alleged sexual assault, contrary to what has been mentioned on some social media sites,” he said.
“We have spared no effort in creating a safe environment for all students that attend our campus. This remains a priority. We know that more can always be done and must be done to foster a space where all students feel safe and supported at all times.”
Ramnarine also encouraged students to make use of the campus security escort service, available on request from 6 pm-6 am, designated secure study areas, the shuttle service, designated patrolled walkways and the emergency blue phone service.