During this month, there have been three cases of assault on or near York University campus, pushing the school and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to increase security and safety measures. With the assaults averaging about once per week, officials have decided it’s time to take immediate steps to ensure student and community safety.
According to York security bulletins sent out to students this month, a robbery at gunpoint was committed on a non-community member near Campus Walk and Stedman Lecture Hall on Jan. 7 at 10pm with no injuries sustained. A second robbery at gunpoint was committed on a York community member six days later, Jan. 13, at 11pm near Library Lane and the east side of Bergeron. This past Friday, Jan. 20 at 6:30pm, a student was attacked with an edged weapon near Ian MacDonald Blvd. and York Blvd. During the last of which, according to various news outlets, the victim proceeded to board a train and received help at Dundas Station for her injuries.
Vice President of Finance and Administration, Carol McAulay, writes of the assaults in an internal email, “my thoughts and the thoughts of the entire York community are with the student as they recover from their injuries. We continue to do everything possible to support them.
“I also recognize and understand the significant concerns these incidents have on feelings of safety while studying, learning, and working at York. These incidents are unacceptable, and York is responding strongly to protect the community. We remain in close contact with Toronto Police Services (TPS) and will continue to support their investigations as needed.”
With that said, York students can expect to see increased safety measures in the immediate future, including an increase in York Security Service staff, especially during evening hours; temporarily contracted third-party security services will also patrol campus, alongside temporarily contracted TPS paid duty officers; a request has been made by the University, as well, for Toronto Police neighbourhood officer(s) to patrol campus during the night hours; there will be a redeployment of Security Watch personnel during the night; and will increase real-time monitoring of our CCTV feeds, particularly in high-risk areas.
As the latest assault resulted in serious harm and occurred at the York University subway station, yet did not receive help until she reached Dundas Station, which is 20 km away, the TTC has also decided to respond with increased security and safety measures. Commuter safety has been at the forefront of discussion as TTC announced its 2023 budget plan with service cutbacks and has seen an increase in violent attacks these past few months.
Senior Communications Specialist at the TTC, Stuart Green, says, “The safety of customers and employees is paramount to all the TTC does. We remain committed to working with police, the City of Toronto, and our union partners on ways we can all make the TTC as safe as possible for customers and employees.
“TTC CEO Rick Leary is part of ongoing meetings with Mayor Tory, the Toronto Police Service and union representatives to discuss safety and security on the TTC. Our CEO also had a chance to speak to new Police Chief Myron Demkiw who shares our concerns.”
The TTC also has also increased Special Constable Service and uniformed staff presence and have intentions “to make further changes and enhancements in the new year as part of [the] 2023 budget,” adds Green.
Descriptions of the attackers are incredibly vague; each is described as a male about 5’10” and in their 20s, with one report describing the attacker as having a/ being of a “large build” and another “medium-build”. It is also not confirmed yet whether these incidents are connected or are multiple or various attackers.
GoSAFE service escorts York community members to and from any location on-campus in evenings and at night. Emergency Blue Lights and Safety Phones are located throughout York’s campuses, and provide a direct line to Security Services and goSAFE. The YorkU Safety App provides a direct link to Security Services and goSAFE. It also provides campus safety alerts and information about safety resources.
York Security Services operates 24/7 and responds to all community calls at 416-650-8000 or at 416-736-5333 for urgent matters.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3100, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com or the Facebook Leave a Tip page, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.
For more information about these services and other services available at York go to the Community Safety website at http://yorku.ca/safety.