York kicks off its inaugural Safety Awareness Day

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, from 10:30am to 2pm, York University will hold its first Safety Awareness Day, a special event devoted to personal safety education.

Safety Awareness Day will feature an information fair in Vari Hall for students, faculty and staff. The information fair will bring together, in one convenient location, all of the programs, personnel and services dedicated to personal safety.

“Fall provides an ideal opportunity to create awareness about safety programs and services,” says Ijade Maxwell Rodrigues, chief of staff in the Office of the President and a member of the University Safety Audit Committee. “Our hope is that Safety Awareness Day will provide an opportunity for community members to ask questions or obtain more information about the many safety services, training and programs that are available on campus.”

For many new and returning York students, faculty and staff, new classes, assignments and responsibilities are all part of the start of the academic year and personal safety may not be top of mind. Organizers of Safety Awareness Day hope the event will offer an opportunity for everyone on campus to engage in a meaningful dialogue about how to be proactive about their personal safety.

Throughout the development of Safety Awareness Day and the University’s new Safety Awareness website, the focus has been on collaboration with community members. This September brought the new Know it! Use it! Own it! safety awareness initiative to the University. This initiative is a pan-University effort, which features a physical and virtual presence. It was launched with Facebook ads, posters, banners in Vari Hall, and the creation of the University’s new Safety Awareness website, all leading up to Safety Awareness Day on Oct. 5.

“The website is the enduring legacy of the campaign and it pulls all of the safety information together into a convenient online format,” says Maxwell Rodrigues.

As part of the safety initiative, the Residence Life staff will be hosting a weeklong series of activities designed to raise awareness among residence students about various aspects of safety in residence including personal safety, fire safety, emergency preparedness and campus safety.

Safety was also a key focus during Orientation Week with a variety of initiatives in the residences and colleges focused on raising awareness about safety issues and resources, and culminating with the Can I Kiss You? event hosted by the Centre of Human Rights on Sept. 8. The Glendon campus is also participating in the campaign and disseminating it in both English and French to reflect the unique bilingual nature of the campus.

Right: York community members will have an opportunity to meet staff and learn about all the safety programs and services on campus

The lead organizer of the information fair is York’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Katherine Branton, manager of the University’s Emergency Preparedness Program, says Safety Awareness Day will offer essential information on staying safe and emergency preparedness because the two go hand-in-hand. Safety Awareness Day will also have an element of fun, she says. “There will be giveaways of safety ‘swag’ and everyone who visits the information fair will have an opportunity to enter a draw for an iPod.”

York’s Safety Awareness Day coincides with National Fire Prevention Week and Branton says there will also be information and displays about fire safety and prevention during Safety Awareness Day. “I encourage everyone to come to Vari Hall to learn how to be safe,” says Branton. “Safety Awareness Day offers a one-stop shop for all kinds of information on how to be safe and be prepared in the event of an emergency.”

Some booths that will be present at Safety Awareness Day in Vari Hall include:

Emergency Preparedness Program: Find out what York has planned in case of emergencies and what individuals can do to be prepared for an emergency.

goSAFE: Community members who study or work late on campus can use the University’s goSAFE program. goSAFE offers safety escorts who can walk community members to their on-campus destination, and there is a shuttle that operates after hours.

York Security Services: Meet some of the members of the University’s security team who cover the Keele and Glendon campuses 24 hours a day, seven days a week by foot, bicycle and vehicle, and by monitoring more than 600 closed-circuit television cameras. Learn more about the many crime prevention programs that are in place, including the blue light emergency telephones, the laptop theft prevention program, the Why Work Alone? program and more.

Disaster & Emergency Management Program: For those interested in learning more about emergency management, the School of Administrative Studies in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies will be on hand to provide information about this exciting program of study.

Health Education & Promotion: For those who enjoy a meal and a drink in the pubs, this booth offers information and tips from York’s SafeSource Program.

Centre for Human Rights: The centre assists community members to resolve concerns and complaints about allegations of discrimination and/or harassment as defined by the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Safety Awareness Initiative: Know It! Use It! Own It! and the University’s Safety Awareness website.

Other exhibitors include Occupational Health & Safety, the York Federation of Students, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line, municipal emergency services, including police, fire and emergency medical services, Transportation Services and more.

Safety Awareness Day follows the release of the York University Safety Audit Report, a comprehensive evaluation of safety initiatives on the York campus by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women & Children (METRAC) a third-party auditor.  The report captured many of the strengths related to safety programs on campus, as well as the approach and rationale for the existence of these programs (see YFile, Sept. 14). However, one of the most prominent themes from the METRAC Safety Audit was the need to develop a more pronounced culture of safety and security for all community members.

“Safety Awareness Day offers an important way to enhance the community’s culture of safety and security,” says Maxwell Rodrigues.

Visit the Safety Awareness website to learn more about the comprehensive safety measures, programs and services available at York University.