Third sexual assault at York in 5 months

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

For the third time in just five months, a sexual assault has been reported in a York University residence.

Last Friday, a 20-year-old woman was allegedly attacked in a stairwell of York’s Keele Campus Founder’s College residence at around 8:30 p.m.

The Toronto Police Service and university administration were informed of the incident on Tuesday. York immediately posted flyers and sent emails to notify students of the assault.

Currently, police are looking for one suspect, but it is unknown whether this individual is a York student.

According to Constable Jason Shankaran of the Toronto Police Sex Crimes Unit, a team is on the road working on this case.

“The investigation is just in its infancy,” he said.

This latest attack occurred in the wake of two previous sexual assaults at York’s Vanier College residence in September and renewed concern among members of the York Federation of Students.

“The feeling of students, especially those working in the student union, is frustration,” Gilary Massa, vice-president equity for the YFS, said.

Despite greater campus security following September’s assaults, such as an increased police presence and annual lighting tour, Massa feels York administration is merely offering band-aid solutions.

“It’s clear with this third sexual assault that this is not isolated ... it’s not a fluke,” Massa said.

“These are cases that stem from the university not looking at safety as a structural, institutional and systemic problem.”

At a forum held to discuss safety and security following the first two sexual assaults, the YFS noted many women were receptive to the idea of a safety audit on campus.

YFS solicited the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) to conduct an external safety audit.

“We take an overall holistic look at what safety means ... not just physical features, but policies, procedures, programs and resources,” Narina Nagra, safety director for METRAC, explained.

METRAC’s safety audits have taken place at various campuses across the country, including Queen’s University, the University of New Brunswick, Carleton University, and the University of Toronto " but not York.

Massa said the YFS has yet to see full support for the audits from York administration.

“Admin is dragging its feet on the issue [of a safety audit] ... we need a firm commitment,” Massa continued.

Nagra assured negotiations are occurring between METRAC and the university, but would not comment further.

At Western, safety is a primary concern of Elgin Austen, director of the Campus Community Police Service, who said internal safety reviews are frequent here.

“We’ve had 80 major reviews across campus, not just one,” Austen added.

It is unclear whether York will see an external safety audit before the end of the year.

The Gazette could not reach York administration for comment.

“It is unfortunate a third person has to be assaulted for people to take action. And we don’t even know if they will,” Massa said.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette