Content warning: This article discusses sexual harassment, including mentioning sexual harassment of a minor.

As two new cases of voyeurism in February make up three cases of voyeurism this semester for New College, students have taken issue with the administration’s response to the ongoing criminal activity.

New College voyeurism, old and new 

From July to October 2023, there were multiple incidents of voyeurism targeting women’s washrooms, including one victim as young as 14 years old. On January 4, the Toronto Police Services (TPS) arrested and charged a man with five incidents of voyeurism.

However, that did not stop further incidents of the same crime. Just days later, on January 9, someone lifted a phone above an occupied shower stall in Wilson Residence. Unlike the Fall semester’s incidents of voyeurism, U of T did not inform the broader campus

On February 7, someone held a phone over an occupied stall in the first floor women’s washroom, which is publicly accessible. This time, U of T provided students on all three campuses with a picture of a suspect who appears to be a different person than the man the TPS arrested in January.

On February 15, someone raised a phone above an occupied shower stall in Wilson Residence. U of T sent an email to New College students about the incident but did not send an email to the broader community.

Security measures

Through emails obtained by The Varsity, New College has told residents about the various security measures it is taking to grapple with these new crimes.

These measures include requiring a key fob to enter the third floor washroom where the voyeurism has previously taken place; retrofitting all the shower stalls on the third floor of Wilson Hall and Wetmore Hall for more privacy by February 23; and increasing the number of security guards patrolling public and residential areas in New College. 

The Varsity previously reported that a representative was able to access a residence washroom by following after students with fob keys. Since, New College has posted signs on every door discouraging the practice. The signs also ask residents to report “non-commuity members” on residential floors.

“Everyone on campus needs to know”

Students took issue with the fact that only the washrooms on the third floor have gained additional security when a voyeur could just as easily access other residence floor washrooms, let alone public washrooms in New College buildings.

“They’ve put so much resources into the Johnson House bathroom alone that it feels weird. Why would the voyeurs come to the same place twice? It feels like the resources would be much better spent on the ground floor bathrooms that are even more open to the public,” said Aden Zalesky, a first-year international relations and political science student living on the affected floor.

“It doesn’t make sense to add key fobs only to the affected third floor washroom when anyone with a residence key card can access other washrooms,” said Henry Merrill, a first-year social sciences student living on the Wilson Hall floor that was previously targeted. “If you’re able to get into Johnson House you’re able to get into any of the other floors.”

Zalesky and Merrill said that U of T did not inform them of the voyeurism incidents that took place during the summer. Merrill added that he would have expected U of T to have taken more measures since then than it has. “That’s basically a whole year of waiting before they took any meaningful action,” he said.

Students not living in residences but frequenting New College buildings for other reasons also wish there was more communication from the school.

Emma MacDonald, a fourth-year double majoring in equity studies and English, who has many classes in the New College building, told The Varsity, “It’s very oppressive, trying to keep the emails restricted just to people who live in the building.” 

“This is happening in the public part of buildings,” noted MacDonald. “I feel like everyone on campus needs to know.” 

Alice Sedgwick, a second-year student studying computer science, who comes to New College to study, says she now has to walk an extra two to three minutes to access a basement washroom where she thinks she’s less likely to become a voyeur’s target. 

She said that the incidents of voyeurism have led to more tension between peers. “You start looking at everybody, you’re like ‘Did you peep in the bathroom?’”

U of T did not respond to The Varsity’s request for comment in time for publication.