Over the past three months, more than 12 sexual assaults have occurred only a few blocks west of campus. According to local news sources, a particular man has been publicly terrorizing women. With assaults so close to campus, and the administration tight-lipped about the issue, some students are asking, “What measures are really being taken to keep campus safe?”
Special Constable Sam D’Angelo of the U of T Campus Police explains that most criminals, especially violent criminals, have a tendency to stay in the same area. “Most criminals stay in an area they know. He’ll reside in the area that he knows where to run and where to hide. His pattern has always been in that area, and there is no reason to believe he’ll move outside of it.”
D’Angelo doesn’t think that the Annex assailant will enter campus grounds, given this tendency to remain in a familiar setting. D’Anegelo also explains that the St. George campus, with more resources available to its Special Constables than to the average campus security guard, has a very low rate of violent crime. This is due to the increased access to resources and additional training that Special Constables receive. D’Angelo and his colleagues make campus safe enough for even his two daughters to attend.
Despite this assurance, the administration needs to make a statement regarding the issue. After all, many students live off campus, and these assaults have occurred as close as a single kilometer from Robarts library. The Toronto Police Department remains vague as to the nature of the assaults themselves. Though it is necessary for the media to keep the nature of the crimes discreet until the investigation is complete, the university ought at least to educate students on campus about the current situation and how it affects their safety. The university needs to decide if they intend to provide additional protection and services to students who commute through the Annex daily for class. If this isn’t part of their plan, an explanation is even more in order.
Given that this is an open campus and a frequent thoroughfare for non-students, additional security, or at least an addressing of the issue, is necessary. The administration should act to show that the safety of students is still a campus priority. The university should recognize that students have a right to know they’re safe leaving class at 9:00 pm, and heading back to their homes off-campus. When unsolved crimes like the recent Annex assaults occur in our local community, protecting students should be a priority.