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Breaking News: Is York University Unsafe Since It Is Close To The Low Income Jane & Finch Neighbourhood?

Published on Monday July 09, 2012

JESSICA MCDIARMID/TORONTO STARStudents are criticizing York University’s response to the sexual assaults, saying more should have been done to notify them. (July 9, 2012)
Graham Slaughter and Jessica McDiarmid
Staff Reporters

A trio of sexual assaults at York University has students questioning their safety and the response of campus officials at the university plagued by high-profile security incidents.

Police are investigating three alleged sexual assaults that took place last Thursday afternoon near Vari Hall at the Keele campus.

One man was arrested Monday night and charged in relation to the assaults. Police said they think there may be more victims.

Sociology student Priya Kant said she only heard about the incidents on Sunday when it was reported on the news.

“It’s not good at all; it’s scary being here by yourself,” said Kant, who attends night classes. “I would think after the first assaults, this wouldn’t happen. It just shows that they’re not doing anything about it.”

York has previously drawn criticism for its reaction to assaults and robberies that have taken place at the university, attended by about 54,000 students.

University officials said an internal security bulletin was posted on York’s security website Thursday night and revised Friday after additional assaults were reported. A mass email was sent to students on Monday, four days after the alleged assaults.

“We take these assaults, which involved unwanted touching, very seriously. The victims have been offered counselling,” said university spokeswoman Janice Walls.

Vanessa Hunt, president of the York Federation of Students, said the university’s news portal, YFile, should have made efforts to notify students online sooner.

“Whether or not a thousand students read it, it should be on there,” Hunt said. “It should be publicized. People need to know what’s going on.”

She added that while the university did post security bulletins across campus, they could have done more.

“We keep pushing. They could really do better for communications with students.”

Summer student Maya Menezes only heard about the assaults on Monday. She said she hadn’t received an email or seen posters.

“I think it’s a safe school overall and these things could happen anywhere,” Menezes said. “Still, they can take steps to protect us.”

York said it was stepping up security patrols in the area where the assaults occurred.

Psychology student Paulina Camino said she heard about the incidents through a friend.

“You become a little bit more hesitant,” Camino said. “I feel safe but I don’t know how safe it is.”

Priya Kant, who is in her final year, said she used to leave her car in a free parking area nearby and hoof it to save on parking fees. She’s not doing that any more.

“It’s more money for your safety,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Last year, York said, it was beefing up security, including hiring more staff, in response to a safety audit.

Oshane Leach, 20, of Toronto, has been charged with three counts of sexual assault, two counts of criminal harassment, and two counts of assault. He will appear in court Tuesday morning.

Shocking News: Two Women Sexually Assaulted At York University Near Vari Hall & Colonnade!!

TORONTO - Two female members of the York community reported incidents of sexual assault on Thurs. July 5, 2012, near Vari Hall and the Colonnade.

York Security is assisting Toronto Police Service (TPS) in the investigation of the incidents.

In the first incident, at 3:40pm, two men approached a female who was walking in the Common area, heading toward Vari Hall. One of the men attempted to block her way and speak to her, before touching her twice.

In the second incident, at 3:43 pm, a female was exiting the Colonnade when she was approached by an unknown male who attempted to speak with her and touched her on two occasions.

The suspect in both of the incidents is described as:

–Male, black, 21-23 years old, 6’3” in height, with a skinny build, scruffy beard, wearing a white baseball cap, green shirt, and baggy jeans.

The second suspect  who approached the woman in the incident near Vari Hall, is described as:

–Male, black, 21 to 23 yars old, 5’8”, heavyset, wearing a black baseball cap, green shirt and jeans.

Should you have any information about either incident you are asked to contact Toronto Police Service directly at 416.808.2222. York Security responds to all community calls at 416.736.5333.

York Community members are reminded to always exercise personal safety by:

  • Being aware of your surroundings and the people around you
  • Report any suspicious persons or behaviour to York Security Services

York University provides the following campus security services:

  • 24/7/365 campus security patrols
  • goSAFE foot patrols
  • Transportation – Campus Shuttle
  • 24/7/365 Monitored CCTV coverage
  • Network of Emergency “Blue Light” Telephones
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