The Change.org petition that nearly landed a Sheridan student in hot water last week has spurred the college’s administration into action on sexual assaults near the campus.
Beefed up security and and more communication with the community are among the measures police and the college are taking.
At a town hall meeting on Feb. 11, Sheridan College and the Halton Regional Police Service briefed students, staff and Oakville residents of Oakville on the ongoing investigation regarding the sexual assaults occurring around the school, and were given the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns.
The speakers at the event were Sheridan College president Dr. Jeff Zabudsky and Sheridan’s student union president, Jenna Pulver. Also in attendance were superintendent of the Halton Regional Police Martin Power, Constable Carla Draper, chairman for Crimestoppers of Halton Norman Bellefontaine, and Michael Burjaw, Sheridan’s director of security.
The panel addressed the audience on the measures being taken at the college to ensure the safety of students and staff alike. Below is a clip from the meeting, filmed by JNM Journal reporter Autumn Smith:
The police reiterated a basic description of the suspect, including his height, build and clothing. In response to repeated questioning, Power said any further identification was proving difficult due to the suspect’s face cover.
Since the attacks in August, Sheridan College has hired an additional five guards to patrol the campus, and has made more patrol vehicles available. Burjaw spoke of a ‘walkie talkie’ app for smartphones that makes it easy to patch in directly to Sheridan security.
Constable Draper has a designated booth set up outside the security office in the B-wing of the college. She will be stationed there from 1-4pm until Feb. 21, and will be answering questions related to personal safety. At the town hall meeting, she stated that anybody who finds themselves under attack should fight back.
“You’ve got a lot of body parts,” she said. “Make a lot of noise.”
Halton police have also dispatched plainclothes officers around the trail system. Officers are collecting information from people walking on the trails
Maps of safe walk and emergency phone locations were distributed to attendees at the end of the meeting:
Hamza Jami, the student responsible for launching the petition which drew attention to the security issue on campus, also attended the town hall meeting.
He told the JNM Journal that he was glad the meeting happened, but that the changes need implementing as soon as possible.
“You can’t beautify the forest without looking at the security issues first,” Jami said, in response to Burjaw’s comment about the addition of public art to the trail system.
Jami disclosed that he is working on a security project, called Discovery, that he hopes will make it easier for security and police to track and respond to future attacks. He intends to present his proposal to administration as soon as he can.
Constable Draper said that she wished more concerned students had shown up to the town hall meeting, rather than the influx of journalism students and media personnel.
“A lot of them repeated the same questions,” she said from her booth in B-wing. “I’m not sure if they were listening.”