York increases security on campus

York University has increased security patrols on the Keele campus as students, staff and faculty come to terms with the sudden death last week of a student in The Village, a private housing development south of the University.

“The York community is mourning the loss of one of our students, Qian Liu,” said York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “At this difficult time, there is a heightened level of concern among students about safety. Safety has been, and remains, a top priority at York University, so we are committing additional resources, above and beyond the safety measures and initiatives that we have already implemented this past year and have planned for the future.”

Starting Tuesday night, York Security Services increased patrols within the University boundaries. From 7pm to 3am paid-duty police officers will be patrolling the campus.

Off campus, York has been working with the Toronto Police Service (TPS), which has significantly increased patrols in The Village, including undercover officers and uniformed officers on bikes.

“We have a positive and collaborative relationship with Toronto Police Service and I know members of the community appreciate their additional safety efforts,” said Shoukri.

“The Toronto Police Service works very closely with York University to help create a safer community,” said TPS Inspector Tony Riviere. “We will continue to work together to enhance public safety at York and in the surrounding area.”

York also works closely with other partners in the community. In March of this year, York reconstituted the “Town and Gown” Committee, a working group that focuses on the area surrounding the York campus. These partners include Councillor Anthony Perruzza, officials from the City of Toronto, Toronto Police Service, Toronto Fire Department, the York Federation of Students, students, the Village at York Residents Association and community members.

“Last year, York invested close to $9 million in safety and security − an increase of $500,000 over the previous year,” said Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration. “We are increasing spending significantly in response to the recommendations in the safety audit.”

York University has made significant safety and security improvements over the last two to three years and in response to a comprehensive safety audit that was released in June 2010 by METRAC (Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children).

These improvements include: the Residence Watch program, which employs 22 security officials focusing on residence security; $200,000 annually invested in lighting improvements; additional security cameras on campus and in residences; door alarms in residences; 220 emergency phones, including safety phones in classrooms; a goSAFE program that escorts students to class, residences, and parking and transit; and strategically located campus TV screens for communicating safety messages. In addition, proposals are under review to increase spending on security personnel by as much as 40 per cent.

More details are available in the University document Safety and Security at York University. It is also available in Chinese.

The text of this article is also avaiilable in Chinese.