A Trinity College student claims to have been assaulted by a Campus Police officer in the aftermath of a residence party on September 23.
The student, Bardia Monavari, Co-Head of College at Trinity, alleges in a formal complaint filed to the Campus Police that the Assistant Dean of Students for Residence Life Adam Hogan, and the Assistant Dean of Students for Student Life Christine Cerullo wrongly pointed him out to the police as the organizer of the party and consequently did not act as he was verbally and physically assaulted by a Campus Police officer.
According to the Trinity Co-Head of Arts Lukas Weese, who was witness to the incident, Hogan called Campus Police because he thought that the party was becoming too loud. At the same time, a fire alarm was pulled and students in the residence were evacuated.
After it was determined that it was a false alarm, Monavari says that he and Weese were asked by Hogan and Cerullo to speak to the officers.
“They made us think that it was an informal conversation,” Monavari told The Varsity. “I didn’t think I was going to be held liable for anything.”
However, according to Monavari, the situation escalated when an officer threatened to hold him accountable for the cost of calling the fire department.
“He would continue his threats through unprofessional taunts to me specifically, saying, ‘You’re fucked,’ ‘You’re done,’ and ‘Someone needs to pay for these fines and it’s going to be you,’” Monavari wrote in his complaint.
The officer then allegedly asked for Monavari’s name, which Monavari refused to give him.
“In response to this, [the officer] shoved me from behind, grabbed my shoulder, and forcefully placed my hands behind my back, claiming I was under arrest,” Monavari wrote.
Weese confirmed Monavari’s account of the event, adding that “while this was happening, [Hogan] and [Cerullo] were watching and did absolutely nothing to stop this assault from taking place. They stood there, incredibly apathetic, just did not do anything to condemn this behaviour.”
Actions against the Dean’s Office
Another witness at the scene, first year Trinity student Ellie Schoefell, further corroborated Monavari’s description. “It was obvious that they were targeting [Monavari] and they didn’t target [Weese] at all. And they tried to handcuff him, I think. It looked like they were doing something with his wrists,” she told The Varsity.
“[The Assistant Deans] were there, they were definitely on the scene,” she further alleged.
As a direct result of this event, former Head of Arts Thomas Robson put forward a motion for the September 25 Trinity College Meeting (TCM), Trinity’s direct democracy student government, for a vote of non-confidence in the Dean’s Office. The motion passed 209 to seven with five abstentions.
Robson stated that he also motioned for the vote in part due to the office’s mishandling of Trinity student Tamsyn Riddle’s sexual assault case, which resulted in her filing a human rights complaint against U of T and Trinity.
Based on this vote, TCM Chair Leila Martin will send a letter to several governing bodies at Trinity, including the Office of the Provost, the Board of Trustees at Trinity College, all committees of Senate, and members of Trinity College Corporation. The letter will inform them of the students’ vote.
“Effectively this vote was just students voicing their concerns with the Dean’s Office and students informing administration above the Dean’s Office that we no longer have confidence in the said office,” Robson said.
Robson stated that he would like to see Monavari and Riddle receive an official apology from the Office of the Dean of Students. “I think specifically the two of them have been wronged egregiously,” he said.
Monavari also said that he wants there to be disciplinary actions against Hogan and Cerullo, who, he said, “enabled the police to violently assault me.” He said that “a lot of times a lack of action is worse than actually being malicious to someone.”
Weese stated that he wants to see Hogan and Cerullo “gone, to be honest. I think that would be the best scenario… We want these people to receive the appropriate disciplinary action, which I would say is removal from their position.”
The Varsity reached out to the Office of the Dean of Students at Trinity, and received a statement from Young Um, Trinity’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs. “Providing a safe, respectful, and welcoming environment is a priority at Trinity. The College is in the process of carefully reviewing the series of events concerning Saturday night and therefore we are not in a position to comment at this point,” Um said.
Althea Blackburn-Evans, Director of Media Relations at U of T, stated in an email to The Varsity that Campus Police have opened an investigation. “It’s ongoing so there’s no further information to share at this point,” she said.
Campus Police were unable to provide comment at time of publication.
Editor’s Note (October 4): This story has been updated to reflect that Young Um responded to The Varsity‘s request for comment from the Office of the Dean of Students.