University of Newcastle students voice concerns about safety at Callaghan campus after assault

CONTENT: Newstep student Estella Sullivan said she feels safe at Callaghan and is aware of the avaliable security.
CONTENT: Newstep student Estella Sullivan said she feels safe at Callaghan and is aware of the avaliable security.

University of Newcastle students have called for upgraded lighting and an increase of roaming security officers at Callaghan campus following the unprovoked assault of an international student on Saturday.

Students who expressed concerns about campus safety to the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday said they feel isolated when navigating the campus at night and are hesitant to walk alone.

Some were unaware of the assault on a 21-year-old Pakistan man, who had his nose smashed by a male attacker after he was stopped while driving alone on Ring Road at about 8.30pm. 

“I live on campus, but I would never walk alone at night,” Meg Blackburn, a student from England, said.

ISOLATED: A section of Ring Road at Callaghan campus, where a 21-year-old student was assaulted. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

ISOLATED: A section of Ring Road at Callaghan campus, where a 21-year-old student was assaulted. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

“Just because I’ve been told not to. Obviously being a girl as well, you’re always told don’t walk alone.”

Design student Amber Sherwood said the assault had heightened her concerns of returning to on-campus accommodation at night. 

“It scares me so much,” she said. “I work at King Street Hotel, so I have to catch a bus to and from work. I get back late at night, so it’s very worrying knowing that I have to walk from the bus stop.” 

Ms Sherwood said people not from the university often linger at the campus. 

“There’s always people lurking around,” she said.

“I don’t know if they think they’re going to get in on parties or steal things. I have a few friends who have had things stolen [from rooms].” 

CONCERNS: University of Newcastle student Amber Sherwood at Callaghan campus on Tuesday. She was one of many with concerns about safety. Pictures: Simon McCarthy

CONCERNS: University of Newcastle student Amber Sherwood at Callaghan campus on Tuesday. She was one of many with concerns about safety. Pictures: Simon McCarthy

Most students who spoke to the Herald said there is not enough adequate lighting at the campus, while others said there is a lack of visible, on-foot security and CCTV cameras. 

Newstep student Estella Sullivan, who commutes to the campus by bus, said late classes in winter are a concern. 

However, overall, she feels safe at the campus and is aware of the security services available. 

“That can be quite isolated,” she said of finishing late. “There’s not many people around, it’s quite dark.

“[But] you can call the shuttle and they can pick you up and take you to wherever you need to go any time of the night. So that is pretty good.”

A University spokesperson said on Tuesday “if anyone on our campuses feels unsafe or needs assistance, they should contact Security Services immediately”.

“Security Services will provide them with a safety escort or shuttle bus service to move them around campus safely at any time of day,” the spokesperson said. 

DISMAYED: Student Thomas Van Koeverden, who believes security improvements can be made.

DISMAYED: Student Thomas Van Koeverden, who believes security improvements can be made.

Civil engineering student Thomas Van Koeverden said it was “not good enough” for a student to be able to be attacked like on Saturday.

“They’re investing in new campuses and new facilities, yet they can’t keep us safe on the existing facility,” he said.

“I don’t have the university’s security number on call, so I’d probably have to google that, which in an incident you wouldn’t have a chance to do.

“I definitely wouldn’t recommend anyone walking by themselves at night.”