Efforts are great but more to be done


Funds needed: Lee said the Higher Education Ministry should make funds available as not all public universities are well-equipped.

A BIGGER budget, more proactive strategies and greater awareness among students on the need to be more vigilant, are crucial in creating a safe ecosystem.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student representative council (SRC) vice-president Mohamad Ariff Fikri Ali said these efforts will deter crime and protect these universities’ communities and properties.

“We have recommended several measures to our university, including increasing patrolling of high-risk areas.

“As the SRC body, we always take students’ security complaints seriously. This makes it easier for the university to trace the perpetrators and for action to be taken,” he said.

Universiti Malaya (UM) Students’ Union president Muhammad Haziq Azfar Ishak said the collective effort by public universities is a good initiative.

“At UM, we don’t have enough auxiliary police officers on duty, especially at night.

“So it’s important that the university is taking steps to address this,” he said, adding that ensuring safety isn’t the management’s responsibility alone as students too must play their part.

Proactive measures: Prof Geshina said universities should look into proactive risk strategies when improving campus security and safety.Proactive measures: Prof Geshina said universities should look into proactive risk strategies when improving campus security and safety.

Agreeing, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) criminologist and psychologist Assoc Prof Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat said safety and crime prevention are a personal and collective responsibility.

Many incidences of crime, she said, especially property and petty crime, can be traced to the victim’s own carelessness and irresponsible actions, such as not locking doors, leaving keys in obvious places and leaving personal property easily visible.

“All it takes is a few seconds for theft to occur, so even leaving property unattended for a very short time provides enough opportunity for criminals.

“Besides inculcating the importance of personal responsibility among students, universities must also look into proactive risk strategy efforts.”

Some of these strategies, she said, include a ‘stop and check’ operation where every person who enters the campus grounds is checked to determine where they going, who they are meeting, and the purpose they are there.

“This effort has proven to be successful in preventing crimes before they occur.

“Universities can also promote crime awareness and prevention, and staying safe and healthy, through posters.

Ïnformation on persons to contact in case of a crime occurrence, is helpful,” she said.

Have check-lists, physical confirmation and communication channels to monitor students and staff who are staying on campus, and enforce reasonable curfew hours to minimise crime opportunities.

Universities can look into providing online counseling and hotlines, she said, to help students and staff mitigate cabin fever, stress and negative emotions during the management control order (MCO) to reduce incidents of conflict.

“Build strong student and staff support systems so students can help one another and staff can be on standby to help their colleagues and students.

“Social media platforms are helpful in ensuring this.”

Public universities are doing the best they can, given the budget constraints, availability of resources, procurement procedures and the MCO, she said.

“Installing equipment like CCTVs and access barriers are pricey and requires time, manpower, and maintenance, which are beyond the normal practice.”

While criminologist and former USM security director Assoc Prof Datuk Dr P. Sundramoorthy said crime rates in public universities are generally low, no campus is immune to crime.

“Universities have to invest more in technology to facilitate and assist the relevant departments to be more efficient in handling these cases.

“They are efficient but there are limitations due to funding, so universities implement security measures by phases.

“You don’t always get what you want, even if it is a justified need,” he said.

This strategy has to change, he said, adding that management has to place more priority on allocating such funds.

He suggests universities invest more on CCTVs, drones and emergency call boxes; especially in dormitories.

“A campus community comprises of Malaysians and international students and faculty members.

“Universities should look into hiring a more diverse mix of security officers.

“Unfortuntely, such positions don’t attract many candidates because of the low pay.”

Security departments in universities will be more efficient if more measures are identified to hire minorities to reflect the ethnic composition in a university’s community, Sundramoorthy said.

Public universities must be given a bigger allocation, Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said.

CCTVs and technological equipment are needed to monitor movements in campuses, he said, adding that the Higher Education Ministry should make funds available as not all public universities are well-equipped.

“Universities can be proactive and organise their own activities like martial arts to empower students, and advise them of the do’s and don’ts if they are in danger.

“Security of buildings and entrances and exits of universities must be well guarded and monitored to ensure that undesirable characters are denied access into the universities.”

He said students should also be exposed to safety education. Inviting the police, for example, to give regular talks, would go a long way in making students more aware of what to do in the event of a crime, and more importantly, how to prevent it from occuring.

Parent Aminah Abdul is happy with the effort taken by the varsities as surveillance, she said, is vital in all public areas, especially learning spaces.

“It’s an important step towards providing a safe environment for our children.

“In fact, schools should follow suit. It could lead to a decrease in bullying cases for the fear of being watched,” she said.

The benefits are greater with surveillance but implementation should be done without causing a sense of intimidation among students and staff.

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campus , security , movement control order , MCO

   

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