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How much is Ryerson security telling you?

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By Alanna Rizza

On average, 40 incidents — ranging from sexual assaults to verbal outbursts — are recorded by Ryerson’s Integrated Risk Management (IRM) security every week. But students only receive an average of 1.6 of those reports in incident emails.

First-year history student Connor McKenzie woke up in Toronto Western Hospital on Oct. 24 after being assaulted on Gould Street. He said he had no recollection of the night before and all of his belongings were missing.

Three days later, he spoke to campus security. Security received a call on the night of the assault and then contacted the ambulance. He said they told him the aftermath of the incident was caught on camera, but the assault occurred in a “blind spot” so the suspect could not be identified.

McKenzie said witnesses, who he met on the street days later, told him he was hit and robbed. A public security report was not issued.

McKenzie said he was “shocked” to find out there was no public report. “That’s information we should know, I don’t see why they should hide that from us,” he said.

Ryerson began issuing incident emails at the beginning of the 2012 school year to increase transparency and safety awareness. Julia Lewis, director of Ryerson’s IRM, said they determine which incidents are sent to students and faculty using “risk-based criteria.”

“Some of the reports we receive aren’t substantiated,” said Lewis. “That’s part of the risk assessment, is to really have a filter to ensure we meet the goal of having an informed sense of security.”

The criteria IRM uses is based on whether the incident is considered an ongoing threat, according to Daniel Paquette, account director of IRM. If a suspect has not been identified, it’s considered to be ongoing. The exception, Paquette said, is if an incident is considered “extremely” serious.

Tanya Poppleton, manager of security and emergency services at Ryerson, said that ongoing risks do play a role in the assessment, but whether or not the incident is “a risk to public safety” is the biggest factor. Serious incidents, Poppleton said via email, are “certain assaults” — including sexual assault, robbery, hate promotion and some serial connected crimes.

Poppleton added not all incidents are made public because people would “be bombarded with emails and then no one is going to read the ones that pertain to [them].”

The Eyeopener has weekly meetings with security where incidents are discussed. Poppleton said that providing campus papers with the briefs that aren’t emailed is an initiative for having a more informed community.

The week of Nov. 23, there was a report of a fight involving four individuals at Church and Gould streets. Two people were taken to the hospital and one arrest was made. No public report was issued.

The week of March 14, security was called about a male trying to escort a drunk female into a taxi. Police were called due to concerns about the female’s safety. No public report was issued.

IRM has records of all reported incidents, but they do not release statistics. York University posts quarterly reports online, along with five-year category comparisons.

“Statistical reports and education initiatives are important means of informing and engaging with students on community safety issues,” Janice Walls, interim chief spokesperson and director of media relations at York, said in an email. “It provides a transparent means for the community to compare trends.”

The University of Toronto also posts weekly and annual reports.

A log of all emailed incidents can be found on Ryerson’s website, but those only make up a fraction of the cumulative total. York, which has approximately 20,000 more students than Ryerson, posted 830 public reports from May to October 2015. Ryerson has 26 posted online from the same time period.

Poppleton said anyone can count how many specific types of incidents occurred if they go online, and that a stat report isn’t necessary. “If you put out a number that doesn’t help anybody,” she said.

Alyson Rogers, co-organizer of the Ryerson Feminist Collective, said that security transparency is important, especially when it comes to social activism on campus. She added that she thinks some institutions don’t share this data to cover up a bigger problem.

“It’s easier to say, ‘Oh there’s no problem here, because we can’t see it,’ and I think that might be what security is doing,” she said. “They can address it as singular crimes, as opposed to a systemic issue.”

Lewis said that IRM uses the numbers to advance crime prevention work on campus, and that’s where the value to the public is. “We do collect numbers, of course we track everything, so that informs our priorities and the need to have crime prevention within the community,” she said. “The value to the community is crime prevention work, and it has to be informed prevention work.”

With files by Nicole Schmidt

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