Two emergency phones, one located outside of E.J. Pratt Library at Victoria College and one between Teefy Hall and Carr Hall at St. Michael’s College, are wrapped with caution tape, along with a piece of paper that reads “Out of Service” with the Campus Police phone number on it.
The bright red emergency phones — which connect directly to the Campus Police office — provide immediate assistance to students who are in danger on campus. Over 30 of these are spread out across the university, from Spadina Avenue to Bay Street and from Bloor Street to College Street.
Campus Police receives an average of 50 calls per year from these phones.
Victoria College and St. Michael’s College are located on the outskirts of UTSG; they back onto public corridors of downtown Toronto. Victoria currently has two functioning emergency phones, while St. Mike’s only has one. There is no other red phone within eyesight of the malfunctioning phone at St. Mike’s.
In an email to The Varsity, Zahavah Kay, President of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council, wrote, “I don’t think a student in an emergency would instinctively find the emergency phone as they are not discussed widely so students aren’t made aware of them.” The Campus Police website has a map of all red phones on campus under the ‘safety’ tab. No other information regarding their use is provided on the site.
Though she does not believe they are efficient, Kay believes the two malfunctioning phones are a safety hazard. “I think it would make a dangerous situation much, much more dangerous if a student in need ran to one of these phones to discover it was not working.” As a student who is constantly at Victoria College late in the evening, Kay said safety is a concern for her.
In an email to The Varsity, University of Toronto Director of Media Relations Althea Blackburn-Evans wrote, “Phones do malfunction from time to time. We keep an eye on that and repair them as quickly as possible.”
Blackburn-Evans confirmed that the areas with emergency phones that are out of service have increased patrols. In the meantime, Kay believes that “if the phones are there they should work, otherwise they should be removed.”
As of press time, no changes have been made to the malfunctioning phones.