The York Federation of Students Response to Toronto Life article of October 2013
TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2013 /CNW/ - Toronto Life magazine recently published an article titled "Fortress York" that presents a misguided and disturbing image of safety at York University. The article uses misleading and troubling generalizations that fail to address the systemic causes of gender-based violence in society.
By labelling the history of sexual violence on this campus as "Fear Factor," Toronto Life sensationalizes the lived experiences of students at York University and fails to acknowledge how sexual violence impacts our society as a whole.
The article states, "Woman on university campuses are now of course, much freer. They live anywhere they want, and walk anywhere they want, at any hour, with whomever they want, or alone, yet the university is still expected to keep them safe." The allegation that survivors are at fault for not protecting themselves denies the systemic issues that cause sexual violence to continue within our society and contributes to a culture that promotes shame and silence amongst people who have experienced sexual violence.
This victim-blaming sentiment is one that the York Federation of Students is consistently battling in its efforts to see action on the systemic issues that lead to gender-based violence on our campuses and in our communities.
Toronto Life also demonizes the Jane and Finch community as the source of offenders of crime on campus. Community members who live in the Jane and Finch area, including York students and staff, are part of our greater community here at York. The York Federation of Students is appalled that our community is being used as a scapegoat for the broader societal issues of violence.
Suggesting that York is a "hunting ground for sexual predators," devalues experiences of violence and objectifies survivors. The York University community we are a part of is both empowered and empowering, continuously striving to support each other in efforts to make our campus and broader communities safer.
York University, like every aspect of society, has a long way to go before we can ensure that everyone can live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination of any kind. We cannot forget that these issues are not unique or more prevalent at York in particular, but indicative of the challenges we face as a society.
The York Federation of Students is committed to working towards a safer campus and pushing for the full implementation of recommendations of the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) safety audit. The York Federation of Students recognizes that the holistic approach of the METRAC audit is necessary for violence prevention. As the audit points out, building a safer York community must consider the university's physical space and security measures, and prioritize education and awareness around the systemic issues that lead to violence including social inequity and oppression.
The York Federation of Students has been at the forefront of fighting for a safe campus for all York students and will continue to work to combat sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms.
The York Federation of Students represents 52 000 undergraduate students at York University.
SOURCE York Federation of StudentsFor further information:
Safiyah Husein, YFS Vice-President Equity, 647-295-9706 or 416-736-2100 ext 20253
Hamid Osman, Executive Director, York Federation of Students, 416-736-5324