By Patrick Szpak
A rash of assaults and robberies have disturbed Ryerson’s usually peaceful campus in the last week and a half.
Since March 13 Ryerson security has reported six assaults, an armed robbery, an unarmed robbery and one off-campus sexual assault on a community member. In two cases the victims were robbed in addition to being physically attacked. The worst of these incidents was a mid-morning March 24 assault and robbery in a Jorgenson stairwell, where an unidentified student was robbed and then thrown down the stairs by two non-community members.
In the case of the sexual assault, Lawrence Robinson, security manager at Ryerson, said the female student got into a car consensually with an unidentified man who asked if she wanted to go out for coffee. They drove off campus to a parking garage where he assaulted her.
Robinson said he is unsure what is causing the unusual string of violent crime. “This week has definitely been a spike. Hopefully things will get back to normal levels in the future,” Robinson said, adding these things come in waves and that warmer weather can sometimes accompany increasing crime rate. He said Ryerson is affected by its location in the downtown core. “At least when you’re on campus there is a security system in place, step off campus and that’s not the case,” Robinson said.
The Eyeopener spoke with three students who have been attacked on or near campus recently.
Kicked in the face while walking to class
Ann-Marie Salem, a fourth-year civil engineering student, experienced first-hand the sometimes unpredictable and dangerous nature of Ryerson’s downtown environment.
Salem said she was walking to school on the morning as of March 23 near Allan Gardens on Gerrard Street, northeast of campus, when she stopped to tie her shoe. An unknown man ran up to her and kicked her in the face. She said the man continued to kick her while she lay on the ground until another woman came to help her.
Salem said the man then threw a rock at the woman, striking her in the head. He then ran away. She says she escaped with only a sore jaw, but that the other woman required medical attention, including stitches.
“I used to feel safe walking to school, not anymore,” Salem said, adding “I used to feel safe on campus until I read your article (last week on the Jorgenson stairwell assault).”
Salem said police have not caught the man who attacked her and the other woman.
Security tackle Blue Jays pickpocket
Ryerson Security did manage to catch one of the thieves on campus last week.
Matt Masongsong, a fourth-year business student, was saved the cost of his Blue Jays tickets after Ryerson security helped him arrest a pickpocket. Masongsong said he was walking on Gerrard Street late on March 27 near Yonge Street when he felt a hand go into his back pocket. He said he noticed his tickets were missing immediately and saw a man putting them in his breast pocket. Masongsong and two of his friends challenged the man, who mocked them and fled.
He said they chased him to the ramp at Jorgenson. “My buddy sprained his hand,” Masongsong said, adding the man “threw his backpack at us and kept running.”
Then “a security guard asked me if I was a Ryerson student and if I wanted him arrested,” Masongsong said. “I said yes and then he said something into his radio.”
Masongsong said he was worried the thief would escape since the security seemed very calm while the pickpocket jogged away. “Then a (Ryerson Security) truck pulled up and I was like, ‘yeah,’” Masongsong said. Security got in the truck and drove after the thief while more guards appeared and ran after the man.
Security tackled him and then, with several guards holding the thief down, told Masongsong that they could not arrest him. “They said I have to arrest him and told me to tell him he was under arrest, so I said to him, ‘You’re under arrest.’”
Masongsong said he recovered his tickets and the thief was taken away by Toronto Police.
Athiest slapped, head-butted in Kerr Hall
Ryerson security cannot be everywhere, however. Justin Trottier, not a student, and a friend were putting posters up after midnight on March 28 in Jorgenson. Trottier, a member of the Freethought Association of Canada, said his posters were promoting a presentation called “God: The Failed Hypothesis.” He said he was approached by two students who took one of his posters. The man who took his poster muttered something and then threw the poster on the floor.
Trottier said he yelled that they could have at least recycled. Fifteen minutes after that he was in the tunnel connecting Kerr Hall to Jorgenson when they again encountered the two men. “They thought I had said something insulting to them and demanded I apologize,” Trottier said.
“They asked me if (the event) was an anti-God thing, I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean to someone who doesn’t’ believe in God.”
Trottier said he refused to apologize and then one man slapped him twice in the face and head-butted him, causing his nose to bleed.
Toronto police arrived 30 minutes after Trottier’s 911 call reporting the attack.
No one has been arrested. Trottier said his nose has been x-rayed, but he does not know yet if it is broken.