Gould Street at Ryerson University in Toronto. Eyeopener File Photo

Sexual assaults trigger new RSU committee

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Sean Wetselaar

News Editor

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) may be working in conjunction with a new committee being formed to address the recent spree of sexual assaults on campus.

The possibility of a community-led task force was suggested at a town hall meeting held Wednesday to give students a chance to discuss the issue.

There have been six reported cases of sexual assault on campus since September, the highest concentration of assaults in recent memory.

While the RSU has run a number of campaigns to address sexual assault, the recent string of reports caused the organization to hold what it called an “emergency community meeting,” with only a week’s planning.

“We’ve kind been ongoing, dealing with this, and then decided that we actually need to come together as a community,” said Marwa Hamad, vice president of equity at the RSU.  “So it was only last week that we put this together.  It was done in a very urgent nature.”

Although no definitive plans for the future of the coalition have been made, Hamad hopes to see the group holding meetings in the near future, and plans to support the movement fully.

“Nothing has been planned in terms of the coalition so far,” said Hamad.  “[But] we hope to take back the minutes and the notes from this meeting, and come together as an executive and review how to best move forward.”

Other measures suggested included audits of security on campus to establish where security should be improved.  Similar methods have been employed at other campuses experiencing high levels of sexual assault, including York University.

Though Hamad stressed the difficulty of discussing sexual assault, some students were upset to see that there was a need for such a meeting.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that [this meeting] is necessary,” said Jeff Perera, a long-time student at Ryerson.  Perera works as a program manager for the White Ribbon Campaign, which advocates male involvement in anti-sexual assault campaigns.

Although most of the conversation focused on initial commentary on the issue, Perera was pleased to see that a discussion had occurred.

“In that sense it’s great, it was great to see a full room,” said Perera.  “But it’s sad, though, why we’re here.  But it’s great to see there’s people here that want to make something happen.”

The new coalition’s mandate could include creating an action plan to make campus as safe as possible.

A second town hall, similar to the first, will be held Thursday.

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