Breaking News: Is York University Unsafe Since It Is Close To The Low Income Jane & Finch Neighbourhood?
Published on Monday July 09, 2012
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.