By Joelle Tomlinson
A member of Ryerson men’s basketball team was among seven people involved in a fight on Feb. 20 on the seventh floor of Pitman Hall.
Aleworki Gebrekerestos, a rookie guard on the team, spat twice on a female student and attempted to hit her. He was then involved in a fight with another floor resident. Corey May, another first-year player, is said to have been one of the group of seven.
Witnesses say that Gebrekerestos was stressed and wandering around the residence mumbling that he had got into a slight altercation with a female student upstairs. The 18-year-old Ottawa native says he came into the residence after a night out with friends.
When a group of female students confronted the seven, things became heated and one student poured her water over Gebrekerestos in the hall.
“Everyone was yelling at each other, it was just a yelling match and the girl got a little bit out of hand and decided to pour all her water on me,” Gebrekerestos said. “I think I might have spat because I was so disgusted…I don’t really even remember that night to tell you the truth.”
A fight then ensued between Gebrekerestos and an 18-year-old male resident. There were punches thrown and the fight was broken up by other members of the group, including May.
“Two of the boys started punching me in the face after one had already spat on the back of my head,” said the assaulted student. “For some reason the guy was spitting left and right and obviously had no respect for women whatsoever. The police got involved by the end and talked to the girls about pressing charges.”
Three members of Gebrekerestos’s group were detained by the police, and are now barred from the campus. They were not members of the Pitman community.
Alex Pearce, an international student, lives next door to where the incident occurred.
“I heard that harsh words were exchanged after the girls had gotten back from a night out. The guys were being loud in the hallway when the group of girls asked the guys to keep it down. After the confrontation with the girls, one of the guys stepped in to intervene and got punched in the face by the guys in the hall,” he said.
Men’s basketball coach Glenn Taylor was surprised it was those two players in particular. He says that that his players know they are a representation of the university.
“Both of those guys are not violent, if anything they’re charismatic and friendly,” he said. “I would assume there’s probably alcohol involved.”
As a coach, Taylor said he doesn’t get too involved with his player’s lives off the court. He said most players will keep personal information to themselves to not affect the rest of the team, leaving the coaches the last to know about news sometimes.
“That’s not uncommon. In most cases, the players will try and keep the team clean,” he said.
Meanwhile, students living in Pitman are surprised that something like this happened in their home.
“It makes you question the security and safety of the place us students at Ryerson call home,” said Hannah Douglas, a first-year arts and contemporary studies student. “The fact that people who don’t even live here are abusing the rights and privileges of tenants is a bit scary, especially in an environment that’s supposed to be secure for first years.”
-with files from Erin Valois