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Students’ perception of safety in the physical environment of a university campus: a case study on Middle East Technical University

Froughisaeid, Negin
The significance of designing an environment which can provide a great amount of serenity is not ambiguous to an architect and urban designer. Perception of safety refers to the subjective experience and user’s level of comfort. What a person per- ceives is what she/he sees as ’real’ and it is this perception of reality that shapes her/his behavior. University campuses are one of the most crucial places in every community. Campuses hold the burden of flourishing capable people for the next generations and are of utmost importance in providing different features besides edu- cation, like safety, security, vitality, health, etc. The aim of this research is to find out which design elements influence the user’s perception of safety in Middle East Tech- nical University campus, and to what extent do these features affect such a perception. By conducting in-depth interviews with 25 undergraduate and graduate students aged between 20 to 30, who had the experience of living on campus during their studies, an adequate amount of information was collected. Participants were randomly se- lected from the set of international and native students that met the research criteria. Analysing the data demonstrates the effect of design problems on students’ behavior and on their daily routine. In areas with issues such as poor lighting, distant from central areas, absence of other people, dense vegetation and navigation difficulties, students would feel less safe despite the fact that there are very few security issues in that areas according to the official reports.