By Gagan Batra
“It’s really hard to completely stop the problem, but York should be credited for raising awareness and introducing the Go Safe program last year. It seems like they’re trying to make the campus safer for potential victims.”
“..when things get into the media they are blown up and instead of focusing on fixing the problems, York was more concerned with damage control to protect their reputation than they were with catching perpetrators.”
“I’d asked them [my parents] if I could move out and live on residence a while ago and they flat out said no because of the stories they’d heard about the school. Being a girl makes my situation even worse because I’m consistently getting the same lectures from my parents about staying away from campus parties and from isolated areas.”
The choice of where to continue with your studies after high school is one of the great importance. There are many post-secondary institutions located in the Greater Toronto Area.YorkUniversityis one school in particular that has built up somewhat of a bad reputation. Located in the Steeles and Keele area,YorkUniversityis the largest university, next to theUniversityofToronto, in all ofOntario. Schulich School of Business,OsgoodeLawSchool, andSenacaCollegeare all associated withYorkUniversity, making it a largely populated institution.
Earlier this month during the first week of university classes, there was a sexual assault reported atYorkUniversity. The assault involved an 18 year old female student who had been followed to her residence on campus where she was assaulted by a 19 year old male. The male was later and charged with sexual assault. Needless to say, this unfortunate occurrence did not set the year off to a very positive start.
This recent incident atYorkUniversityis definitely one to be concerned about, especially since it is not the first case of sexual assault on campus. Over the past few years,YorkUniversityhas been the setting for numerous sexual assaults on students, as well as a murder. Much of people’s reluctance in relation to the university’s campus revolves around the crimes that have repeatedly taken place there.
The students ofYorkwere undoubtedly shocked to find out about such a tragic event occurring so early in their school year. Zubair Mumtaz, third year student, explains that he found out about the incident from an email that had been sent out to the entire student body. “They told us what, where and when it had happened. They also said that the police were still investigating.”
Priyanka Monpara, another third year student, explains her initial reaction to the incident on her campus was to be very frightened. “I was shocked that it happened so quickly and early in the school year.” The fact that this case was not the first of the nature to occur on the campus in the past year definitely affected the students’ reactions. When asking Monpara if she was surprised about a sexual assault case having taken place on campus she responded, “I wasn’t surprised at all. I’ve heard one too many stories similar to the incidents occurring in the past year. I somewhat expected to hear about another crime on campus.”
In light of the university’s reputation, Monpara is not wrong in her opinion. Many people share the view that tightening of security and school policies is required when an incident as severe as sexual assault occurs on a university campus. Considering the fact that this incident is one of many to have occurred atYorkin the past few years, one would begin to question the university’s efforts to ensure student safety.
Pavanjit Mahal, third year student atYork, was one to vouch for the university’s efforts to ensure students’ safety. “It’s really hard to completely stop the problem, butYorkshould be credited for raising awareness and introducing the Go Safe program last year. It seems like they’re trying to make the campus safer for potential victims.”
Mahal explained that the Go Safe program is one where students can ask for a volunteer to escort them from campus to where they need to go late at night. While this program seems like a good place to start, it is definitely not enough to account for the safety of the whole student body at such a largely populated university.
Neil Singh, a student who has recently graduated fromYorkUniversitygave some insight on what it was like on campus when the incidents of sexual assault started becoming more prominent. “When things kept happening, people started questioningYork’s security and they were forced to step up their security, yet the attacks still happened. People would especially hope that the university was a safer place since it has over 50,000 students. Asides from questioning everyone and making them wear their ID cards around their necks like in high school, there wasn’t much they could do. There are just way too many people atYorkat any given time.”
When asked what he thinks the university should do Singh replied, “More security would have made a difference, but when things get into the media they are blown up and instead of focusing on fixing the problems, York was more concerned with damage control to protect their reputation than they were with catching perpetrators.”
Student’s responses to the continually occurring incidents atYorkUniversityare varied. While they are not shocked about all of the crimes taking place on their campus, they are still concerned. But what do the parents think?
Monpara explains, “My parents are really worried for the students. I’d asked them if I could move out and live on residence a while ago and they flat out said no because of the stories they’d heard about the school. Being a girl makes my situation even worse because I’m consistently getting the same lectures from my parents about staying away from campus parties and from isolated areas.”
While the academics atYorkUniversitymay not differ very much from other Canadian institutions, the campus life does. Security is a major concern for students and parents alike. It is true that most of the negative association with theYorkcampus comes from the reputation it has built up from years of crimes being committed there. From sexual assault to murder, students have been exposed to many stories that have left them both afraid and concerned.
The question is no longer about stopping crimes altogether; crime takes place at all schools in some way, albeit some more serious than others. Now, the issue is about protecting the students and the university as a whole from potential harm. It is time to see when and howYorkUniversitywill react to these many incidents that are responsible for its bad reputation.
By: Gagan Batra