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Security questions remain one week after UW attack

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The state of security is being questioned one week after horror hit Hagey Hall at the University of Waterloo, when a man allegedly stabbed three people in a gender issues class including one professor and two students.

 President of the University of Waterloo, Vivek Goel, says the physical security response was one he's happy with.

“The first officers were on scene in three minutes, and the assailant was arrested a few minutes later,” crediting Waterloo Regional Police and Campus Security for great work.

Goel added that all three victims have been released from hospital and are “doing well.”

However, he admits communications regarding the incident and security were lacking that day.

“We know that WatSAFE and how we use it, has to be better,” he says.

WatSAFE is an app students can download to their phone or computer. It offers direct lines to campus security and 911 as well as other security features and tips.

But on the day in question, despite an apparent test only hours before the incident, some on campus say they didn't get a notification from the app until an hour after the stabbing. Others say they didn't get one at all.

PETITION STARTED

A petition posted online calls it the "Wat un-SAFE" app demanding the university fix it. The petition is asking for more urgent notifications on campus Like text and robocalls, "providing recorded warning messages and further instructions, banners on University computers/televisions, as well as a siren/loudspeaker system on campus grounds.”

When asked about his response to the petition Goel said, “at present there is a review under way in terms of security communications and in particular the WatSAFE app.” Adding that feed back like this is welcome.

When it comes to other potential security changes, Goel says frank discussions are necessary.

For example, would increased security actually make people more comfortable? Or could it do the opposite?

“Are we going to have more closed circuit TV cameras in our campus, in our buildings in our classrooms? What kind of impact would that have on people and how free they feel in teaching if they feel they are also being videoed constantly.”

Goel says further events will be held on campus to encourage mental health resources and spark discussions about what kinds of changes people would like to see on campus. He saysthey will consider all student and staff feedback before making security changes.

  

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