By Lee Richardson
This week the news section includes a piece on the first Take back the Block event, which happened over the weekend. Stemming off from the annual Take back the night march, which is organized by the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre, the ‘Block’ event is a reactionary quasi-protest to a spate of sexual assaults towards women on and around our campus.
The idea behind the event is respectable. Students build a high enough presence around campus, — by simply sticking around after dusk — to make things safer for those regularly walking the area.
Unfortunately the event, which was held just outside of Pitman, wasn’t the most well attended. Eyeopener staff who were present counted about 30-50 people there, not counting those passing to and from Pitman who would listen for a couple of minutes then walk on.
Other editors noticed that there was more people in queue for the Ram while the event was going on.
Let’s put this in perspective. In 2009-10, Ryerson released data on gender ratios of students. In that year — the most recent when such data was available — they calculated that 55 per cent of undergraduates were female. Using that percentage against the roughly 26,000 undergraduates in 2012-13 means this event is directly relevant to about 15,000 female students. Add to that the number of male students with a hint of support for feminism, and the fact that only about 30-50 people showed up dampens the potential for strong advocacy against this violence. Not paying attention to these assaults won’t make them go away.
Frankly, a catchline can help draw attention to something for a night, but a presence of more than 30-50 people has to be felt continously to present Ryerson as a place where people can feel comfortable.
We can do better.