Students at Pembroke have expressed concerns to the college over security and safety at Pembroke’s off site accommodation, the Geoffrey Arthur Building (GAB), following a number of bike thefts just outside and a lack of lighting on the towpath and Folly Bridge on St Aldate’s.
Residents of Pembroke’s annex have also raised issue with security cameras outside of the building, which do not work. However, the GAB does have an ‘airlock’ double gate entrance to avoid tail-gating and there have been no thefts from within the grounds of the GAB for three years. Pembroke College has been corresponding with students regarding those issues raised.
Helena Gilchrist, a third-year undergraduate living in the GAB, told Cherwell, “I can understand that crime rates may not be higher in the area in comparison to around college, but that does not mean that the crime rates are low. In college it is very easy to get to the porters quickly, whereas here it is much harder. The walk – which is lit for the entirety of the journey-back suggested by college is sensible, however we feel that it is unrealistic to expect all students to walk back this way as it adds an extra 10-15 minutes to the walk.
“Apparently they don’t have lights on the bridge because 15 years ago people didn’t want the added light keeping them awake. I think it’s ridiculous that the issue hasn’t been addressed in 15 years when safety is an on-going issue. The same goes for the redundant security cameras. I think that our perception of safety is important, regardless of statistics. Being students at university with little other option of places to live, feeling safe is important to minimize stress levels in an already highly pressurized environment.”
JCR President Joseph McShane commented, “We have been promised cooperation on the issue and this is the approach that we really want to take as working with the council on issues such as these is considerably easier with the support of college.”
The home bursar at Pembroke, Mike Naworynsky, commented, “On an annual basis we ensure that all students are given advice and information about safety and security in and around the city centre. As part of that process we give specific advice to students who live in our Annex, mainly due to the proximity of the river, and we point out the potential risks of travelling alone at night anywhere in the city. We strongly recommend certain routes and sensible precautions in line with experience of the area. In addition, we have resident Junior Deans who are available to talk to students if necessary and we engage with students on a one-to-one basis if there are any particular concerns.
“There have been no reports of serious crime in the area of our buildings; in September 2015, there were three reported minor crimes in the area close to our Annex and three reports in the vicinity of the College main site. We have suffered from issues such as bike thefts, which are endemic in Oxford, and we offer excellent advice on how to prevent bikes being stolen as well as providing secure bike racks within our sites and access to discounted high security locks.
Pembroke also added, “Ad Hoc meetings are held as required (with the next meeting due to take place on the 23rd November) where students can raise concerns directly with the Home Bursar.”
On behalf of the City Council, Councillor Bob Price told Cherwell, “No one from Pembroke has raised safety issues with the local councillors. The City Council has no real locus on safety issues: the County Council deals with street lighting and highways/footpath matters and the police with ASB (Anti-Social Behaviour) and fear of crime. “There is a considerable incidence of drug dealing in that area and the police do what they can to disrupt it, but the cuts in their numbers have definitely resulted in less patrolling