By Cairen Harry
If you’ve got a security problem, need some counselling, are worried about your career or even if you’re sick, there are people on Rhodes campus that are available to help you.
Orientation Week (O-Week) at Rhodes University is all about late nights at Friars, drinking games and fun for many students. First-years are encouraged to make the most out of O-Week but according to Dave Charteris, manager of Campus Protection Unit (CPU), it is important that students are constantly aware of possible crimes on campus.
CPU operates from Rhodes Avenue adjacent to Hobson House and is committed to protecting the safety of the Rhodes community and its property. The CPU team firmly believes that “common sense is your best defense”.
This means practicing safety in numbers, avoiding walking around campus alone at night as well as sticking to the main areas or “blue routes” which are well lit and have additional security guards patrolling them. According to Charteris, the main problem lies in the fact that students are not careful enough. “Lots of the students at Rhodes come from big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg and expect Grahamstown to be safe because it is a small town,” said Charteris, but it’s not that safe in reality.
Charteris said that “the main problem is the theft of laptops out of res rooms.” He also added that laptops should be placed out of reach of windows and should be put out of sight when students are not using them.
The team at CPU includes both Rhodes guards and Hi-Tec security guards who patrol both on foot and on bicycles and operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week. If students feel nervous to walk alone at night, the security guards will escort students to their destinations if necessary.
There are numerous alarm sites, cameras and panic buttons set up on campus which are monitored from the Control-Room at CPU. The officers on-call at CPU are in constant radio contact with the guards on the ground. “CPU will summon police and other emergency services when necessary” said Charteris. A big problem with the panic buttons on campus is that students find it amusing to press them on drunken nights when they are not actually in danger. “Soon the guards will not respond to the panic buttons if students keep this up,” Charteris said.
Living in res is much safer than living in digs which are targeted and burgled repeatedly. According to Charteris, Rhodes campus is the safest place to be in Grahamstown and although there are relatively few incidents of crime on campus, students need to be aware of potential threats.
The Counselling centre, situated on the second floor of the student union, functions to provide for the emotional well-being for students. There is a team of three full-time and two part-time counselors who are available to help students. In addition to the constant flow of interns, the centre is in the process of introducing two psychologists. As well as providing anti-harassment services, basic training in counseling, condom supply for residences situated far away from the sanatorium, pre and post HIV/Aids test counseling; the centre also organizes support groups for students. The crisis line allows student to phone in for emotional support after the counseling centre’s daily open hours of 8am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm. The counseling centre encourages students to visit counselors or to reach them on 046 603 8855 to discuss anything that is bothering them, or even to phone them after hours on 082 803 0177.
The career centre is situated on the ground floor of Eden Grove, and provides students with support when preparing for their careers. The voluntary program run by the centre is available to students as of first year and offers access to a career library, which contains information on employers, institutions and careers in South Africa and overseas. The centre also offers career development seminars and job search workshops, assistance with career planning and career publications, a graduate recruitment program and other various career programs available to students. The centre is open from Monday – Friday 8am – 12:45pm and 2 – 4:30pm.
The sanatorium, which is situated up the road from Eden Grove, is responsible for the physical well-being of the students. The competent nurses at the San (as most students call it) are equipped with facilities which enable them to care for sick and injured students. The sanatorium also has the authority to issue a Leave of Absence for the student. The San is open from 8am – 12pm and 2 – 5pm.