Voyeurism plagues U of T students once again after recent reports in St. George residence washrooms
U of T increases security measures including posting signage, installing security cameras, and upgrading fob systems at residence washrooms to combat incidents of voyeurism.

On February 22, students at all University of Toronto (U of T) campuses received a mass email indicating new reports of voyeurism at New College on the university’s St. George campus. An arrest related to accounts of voyeurism in campus restrooms already occurred earlier this year.

On February 7, a suspect held an iPhone over an occupied stall in a publicly accessible women’s washroom at New College. A week later, according to the mass email, on February 15, a suspect held an iPhone over an occupied shower stall in Wilson Hall residence—a residence that requires keys for access. The recent incidents mark three total reports of voyeurism since the arrest in January.

On February 21, New College released a statement on their website addressing these concerns. In the statement, the college acknowledges that it has recently been the target of voyeurism since last month’s incidents and assured students that university staff are working with Campus Safety to address these incidents. “The safety and security of our community are of utmost importance. We are committed to finding a swift resolution to these matters.”

U of T has implemented short-term and long-term safety measures to reduce the risk of voyeurism incidents. During reading week, the university called off security presence and installed additional fob locks for the washrooms at Wilson Hall. By February 23, all shower stalls in Wilson Hall bathrooms and the third floor of Wetmore Hall have been altered to feature eye-proofing to guarantee floor-to-ceiling privacy. If these efforts succeed in increasing privacy for students, the university will implement the same changes at New College.

U of T has also installed additional security cameras at each New College perimeter door as well as signs that indicate which areas are being monitored. Signage has also been posted to indicate where voyeurism incidents have occurred. 

The Medium spoke with two U of T students about their concerns regarding the ongoing voyeurism incidents. 

Ayushmaan Aashish Kher, a second-year exchange student studying computer science at U of T’s St. George campus, felt that current safety measures were “not enough to deal with the concerns we are facing right now.” According to Kher, students can easily use their cards to swipe and enter buildings, including residence halls. 

When asked how else to ensure safety, Kher claims walking in groups is the most effective, but recognizes this is not always feasible, especially during the evening when students are returning to residences on their own. Kher feels that “the presence of campus security should be increased in darker and more isolated areas later at night,” specifically pointing to “areas like Queen’s Park benefitting from patrols by campus police.”

To prevent unfamiliar visitors from entering student spaces, Kher believes “the card swipe system could be implemented at more academic buildings to guarantee that they are only accessible by students and instructors, or anyone affiliated with the university.” When it comes to the question of how secure he felt on campus, Kher responded that he did not “particularly feel threatened,” but was quick to add that this sense of safety draws from the fact that he is rarely alone while on campus and residence.

Brenna Dobson, a third-year student at U of T Mississauga completing a major in paleontology, feels otherwise. She believes that U of T is effectively addressing the voyeurism reports and recognizes that these incidents are not “easily preventable.” Dobson, who takes some classes at U of T’s downtown campus stated, “I feel that keeping us updated and aware [of these] situations is the best way to ensure our safety.” 

Dobson shared her satisfaction with U of T’s efforts to increase signage as it helps her remain “hyperaware” of her surroundings when using washrooms on campus. “I do not believe [police] who [supervise] bathrooms is an adequate solution,” she added, as she claims it would unfairly affect the LGBTQ2S+ community. When it comes to feeling safe on campus, Dobson emphasizes the need to “be hyper-vigilant when using the washroom at the downtown campus.” 


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