Sex assaults raise campus security issue

by | Oct 2, 2015 | News

Chris Besik
News Reporter

The recent cases of sexual assault around the Humber College campuses at North and Lakeshore have reignited the question of safety on and off campus.

There have been two documented cases of sexual assault proximal to Humber North campus since August. The attacks took place along the foot path beside Highway 27 south of Humber College Boulevard.

“They did not occur on Humber College property and they did not occur to anyone connected to Humber College, so the relationship to Humber is that it happened in fairly close proximity,” said Rob Kilfoyle director of Public Safety and Emergency Management at North campus,

“I feel very confident that we have a safe campus,” he said.

Kilfoyle’s department is responsible for the physical security and protection of Humber College students and faculty within the confines of the campus.

Humber security also patrols the path along Highway 27 and Humber College Boulevard.

“During the academic semesters we do patrol,” said Kilfoyle.

“We have security guards patrolling that pathway along Highway 27,” he continued. “Again, it’s not our property to patrol, but because we know there are a significant number of students and faculty who traverse the area we do have security who patrol, to try to provide some measure of safety along that pathway, (and) we do the same thing along Humber College Boulevard.”

Some students however attend class without concern.

“I feel safe on Humber campus because I always see security around,” said Bethanie Friesen, a 21-year-old Tourism Management student at Humber’s North campus.

“Obviously when I get off campus I feel a lot less safe, in the surrounding area,” said Friesen, adding that the college should do a better job at securing and patrolling the outskirts of the campus.

The college’s Public Safety Department offers various security services for students and faculty members. One program for female students is the Rape Aggression Defense course.

“What it provides them with is an increased self-awareness, and also confidence. It provides them with tools and techniques they can use to keep themselves safe,” Kilfoyle said, “It’s not going to make them martial arts experts by any means.”

The program teaches people to display an aura of confidence and awareness. It highlights the issues and solutions to avoiding violent encounters, like the two recent attacks, he said.

Humber Lakeshore, which experienced a nearby sexual assault last Sunday (no Humber student or staff was involved), also offers its own RAD course, while the campus offers the same public safety and security services as the North Campus.

“There are cameras posted all around the buildings, and we have security patrolling constantly around campus. We also have the Emergency posts,” said 19-year-old Development Services student Samantha Stephens, who attends Lakeshore campus.

Despite the recent nearby attack, she said she feels safe at Lakeshore.

“Lakeshore campus seems calmer and laid back compared to other parts of Toronto. Other than a lot of construction, I think it is a great place to attend school,” said Stephens.

There are various things that students and faculty can do to insure they are safe when walking around the area.

“There are always precautions they can take. Number one, if they have a cell phone on them, keep it on hand, but don’t be walking around looking at the phone, be aware of your surroundings,” said Kilfoyle. “The best defense is displaying confidence and that you are aware.”

“You are less likely to be a target for criminal activity, because you’re not easy prey,” he said.