President issues statement on community safety

President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued this message to the York community:

As many of you now know, a member of our community was assaulted this week in the neighbourhood (Sentinel and Murray Ross Parkway) just south of our Keele campus. This assault is distressing to all of us. The University has offered support and resources to the student and her family. In addition, York University Security Services is cooperating with the Toronto Police Service in their investigation.

The safety of our students and our community is paramount. Although we have not received the Safety Audit Report from METRAC, we have taken a number of steps over the past two years to make the campus environment safer, including installation of safety phones in lecture halls, classrooms, corridors and foyers in our academic buildings; the installation of 25 large LCD messaging screens in high traffic areas of campus for emergency messaging; and an enhanced residence security program including intrusion alarms on doors, CCTV cameras and residence watch personnel. These measures augmented existing programs which include 24-hour campus security patrols and CCTV coverage, as well as blue light telephones in outdoor locations and parking garages. We remind all community members of the goSAFE transportation and walking escort service.

The University will be increasing our communication efforts about the resources and programs available in the area of personal safety. We are also stepping up our efforts to communicate to students the necessity of practising safety precautions. We are encouraging students to remain alert to their surroundings, to avoid distractions such as cell phones and personal stereos when walking alone, and to stay as much as possible on well-lit major roadways, pathways and open spaces.

We are working to make sure that a combination of police work, education and community action minimizes the possibility of future assaults. Students, families, University employees, and community members deserve and expect a safe environment, and we must all work together to create one. We will be discussing with the Village at York Residents Association, Toronto Police Service and our students ways we can integrate our collective efforts in the community.