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Andrea Corradi

Creating safe campus environments: Exploring the boundaries of campus security in Canada

Campus security have a presence on the majority of university and colleges throughout North America. Their mandate is to provide a safe environment for students, staff, and faculty. How colleges and universities are physically integrated into the towns and cities in which they are located can influence the operation and effectiveness of campus security and in turn their ability to provide safe environments. While security on post-secondary campuses has received increased attention over the last two decades, many of the studies are quantitative, focus on US universities, and tend to look at “closed campus universities” – institutions that have clearly defined boundaries between their property and the surrounding town or city. There is a knowledge gap concerning how campus security operates on “urban-integrated campuses” – those in which university buildings are situated in an urban centre among other non-university buildings and the boundaries between campus and larger community are often difficult to discern.

CRSP members, Andrea Corradi, Carrie Sanders, and James Popham explored how campus security operates on a Canadian, urban-integrated university campus in their recently published article in the Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice and Criminology.  To analyze a range of perspectives on security and safety, Corradi and her co-investigators conducted 18 interviews with campus security, students, faculty, and university administrators. Their study offers insights into the vital role that jurisdictional boundaries play in safety. The study highlights the importance of understanding how space is conceived differently by actors occupying different positions within a post-secondary institution. Students, for example, often defined the campus broadly and included areas that were not university-owned property. Campus security, by contrast, drew clear distinctions between university and non-university property, noting their jurisdiction was restricted to the former. The different definitions of campus space and confusion around jurisdictional boundaries created challenges for maintaining a safe environment. For example, in some cases students expected campus police to address incidents of harassment that occurred while walking to classes but campus police were unable to do so due to jurisdictional boundaries. These situations left students feeling that campus security was ineffectual and that their safety and well-being were not well protected. The negative perceptions of campus police can, in turn, influence people’s perspectives on the legitimacy of campus police.  


Andrea Corradi graduated with her MA in Criminology from Wilfrid Laurier University and is now completing her PhD in the Department of Criminology at Pennsylvania State University. 

Drs. Carrie Sanders and James Popham are professors in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Criminology.

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