By Drew Halfnight
Most students don’t come home at night to find menacing thugs on their doorstep who then follow them into their bedrooms and spit on their doors before leaving.
But Chelsea McLean did.
She’s a first-year student living on the seventh floor of Pitman Hall, and this past Friday, she was faced with exactly this scenario.
“They followed us back to my room. They were asking ‘hey, where’s the party,’” she said.
Once in her room, McLean picked up her phone and pretended to call security. The men backed out, and she slammed the door behind them. They spat and scrawled “bitch” and other insults on her door.
A friend of McLean’s, Sarah Pennachio, said she had seen the two men hanging out at the Pitman security desk, earlier asking residents to sign them into the dorm. The security staff on duty had done nothing to stop this.
Earlier this semester, two male Eyeopener editors effortlessly walked past security staff at Pitman and the International Living and Learning Centre.
In the wake of the York rapes, Ryerson launched a “security audit” that called for, among other changes, reviewing surveillance cameras and promoting more “community awareness.”
But students like McLean are not convinced that awareness is stopping strangers from infiltrating dorms.
“It’s the second time random people have tried to get into my room,” said McLean. Not long after moving into the building, she awoke at 4 a.m. to someone pounding violently at her door. The stranger tried to jimmy the handle to get in, then left. “I was terrified,” she recalled.
Residents can sign in up to five guests at once. Dorm policy puts all of the onus on residents to ensure the people they sign in don’t harass others.
One student security staff at Pitman confirmed she has no way to verify the good intentions of people being signed in—and no way to know if they are strangers to Ryerson.
McLean said it’s extremely common to see people hanging out near the security desk, asking residents to sign them in. “It’s happened at least once to everyone.”
Security administrator Julia Lewis said the school’s security audit is “continuous and ongoing.”
She did not know of any plan to replace student staff with professional security, or to modify the sign-in policy.
“I have great confidence in residence staff,” she said.
When told of McLean’s case, she said, “She’s got to advise residence staff.”
McLean said that she did report the incident, but little was done.
“It’s almost like there’s no one there for you even if you’re in trouble.”
McLean now goes home to Caledon on three out of four weekends because she feels unsafe in residence.