Do you feel safe on and around campus?
January 11, 2012The Eyeopener
After a delayed response informing the public of the alleged assault of a 27-year-old woman, Ryersonsecurity takes the next steps in protecting its students.
Rebecca Burton reports
Alleged assault on campus edge
BY TARA DESCHAMPS
The East York CommunityCouncil agreed on Tuesday tomake the closure of Gould Streetand portions of Victoria Streetnear Ryerson University perma-nent.Under the adopted motion, thecity would retain ownership of thestreet but Ryerson would be re-sponsible for maintenance, snowremoval and lier collection.Now that the community coun-cil has approved the motion, itwill be reviewed by City Councilon Feb. 7.“We’re on our way,” said Ryer-son President Sheldon Levy. “Thisis truly a success story of studentsthat goes back a number of years.”Ryerson Students Union (RSU)Student Life and Events Vice Pres-ident Alyssa Williams says thatthe RSU is optimistic that GouldStreet will remain closed to thepublic.“I’m hopeful that the decisionwill be in our favour,” she says.“Should it not go that way, it will be very dicult for students be-cause they are so used to the street being closed.”One of the RSU’s primary con-cerns with the street being open tothe public is student safety.“There was an incident wherea student was hit by a car,” shesays. “Having all these cars on thestreet isn’t safe.”Nicole MacKenzie, a second-year early childhood educationstudent, agrees that the street’sclosure will make the campussafer, and also notes that it makestravelling around campus easier.“Having the area closed o is ahuge time saver,” said MacKen-zie. “Students don’t have to waitfor lights to change so it’s easier toget to class [on time].”Last August, Gould Street wasdeemed a pedestrian zone as partof a 12-month pilot project pro-posed by the City of Toronto’sTransportation Services.Throughout the course of theproject, Ryerson used Gould Streetas a recreational space, providingoutdoor furniture for students touse, as well as a venue to host avariety of campus events.“The campaign to close thestreet is six years old, so the RSUhas done lots of things to makesure students use it,” Williamssaid. “We’ve had concerts, ourWinter Week of Welcome and ourstudent groups hold events on thestreet.”When the project ended in Sep-tember 2011, the community coun-cil decided to block the street untila permanent decision is reached.A study conducted by Toronto’scity council found that over 98 percent of people surveyed were infavour of the street’s closure, andcity sta recommended that thestreet become a permanent pedes-trian zone.
The woman was reportedly coerced into a van at Yonge and Gerrard streets.
PHOTO: LINDSAY BOECKL
Community Council approves Gould Street closure
Students gathering on Gould Street.
PHOTO: CAROLYN TURGEON
Andrea Falotid, 1st Yr. Food &Nutrition
“I heard there was a rape[nearby] but I feel prey safe.There’s a security pole [in thequad].”
Meredith Nelson, 2nd Yr. Busi-ness Management
“Yeah, there’s always lots ofpeople around.”
Fmhmad Parvaiz, 2nd Yr. Busi-ness Management
“Yes. Except at Yonge andGerrard, honestly.”Ryerson’s campus was posteredwith security watch alerts af-ter an alleged sexual assault of a27-year-old woman by six malesin the Yonge and Eglington area.The woman was coerced into a black mini-van at Yonge and Ger-rard streets at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 3, just steps away from campus. Thewoman reported that she was takenaway and sexually assaulted by thegroup of men.According to Mark Pugash, thehead of the Toronto Police commu-nications department, the police arecurrently working with the victimto narrow down the location of theassault.While Pugash says that there isno direct link between the victim orthe suspects to Ryerson, the prox-imity to campus has left communi-ty members asking if enough actionhas been taken to warn students.Heavy criticism arose against theToronto Police and Ryerson secu-rity for not adequately warning thepublic of the crime. Security watch bulletins were posted on Jan. 6,three days after the incident.According to Tanya Fermin-Poppleton, operations manager ofsecurity and emergency services,Ryerson only released their securitynotice when they had all the infor-mation that Toronto Police wouldprovide to them. “There was no de-lay on our part,” she said.But Pugash says that puing up bulletins around campus is not themost eective way of protecting po-tential victims.“We’ve been working closelywith agencies that deal with vio-lence against women and they saywarnings are inappropriate be-cause it is blaming the victim,” hesaid.The map of Ryerson extends tothe border of Victoria and Gerrardstreets, excluding the Gerrard andYonge intersection. However, somestudents are troubled that the as-sault took place around the cornerfrom campus.“I didn’t hear about it. I didn’tget any warnings,” said Laura Ste-vens, a rst-year nursing student.Fellow rst-year nursing student,Paulina Szmudrowska, found outthe crime through news reports.“It’s scary knowing it [hap-pened] right down the street,” shesaid. “My mom’s constantly callingme.”For rst-year fashion commu-nication student Holly Wiancko,who lives mere steps away in theCampus Commons building atGerrard and Church streets, it wasa reminder to be aware of her sur-roundings.“I still feel secure, it’s just a mat-ter of walking around while beingsafe. Especially if it’s night time youshouldn’t be alone,” she said.No specic details were releasedon how the woman was coercedinto the car. According to Fermin-Poppleton the men in the carstopped and told the woman to getin.“It doesn’t sound like she wasgrabbed or anything of that nature.They just said ‘get in’, and maybethat was an intimidating factor forher,” she said.While much of the heated debatesurrounded the delay in relayinginformation to students, CaitlinSmith, president of the RyersonStudent’s Union, is concernedabout preventing problems like thisin the future. The timing coincideswith the launch of the Ryersonsexual assault survivor’s supportline through the Women’s Centre,which is set to go live in February.“Regardless of the location, notthat it was just up the street, it’sabout woman’s safety in general.Clearly we’re not past these acts ofviolence happening,” said Smith.Although the campus currentlyprovides 24/7 security patrols and awalk safe program, Fermin-Popple-ton said they will be geing moreof their ocers to talk to students,and telling them what services theyhave at their disposal.
It’s scary knowing it [hap-pened] down the street
— Paulina Szmudrowska,First-year nursing student