U of T students on edge over reports of Peeping Tom

Women residing at the University of Toronto’s St. George campus remain uneasy and on alert after reports of a Peeping Tom prowling about their neighbourhood.

On Jan. 9, Campus Police issued an alert describing a man who peeked into apartments occupied by women in the Bloor and St. George streets area. Aadila Dosani, a don at St. Michael’s College acknowledged the report, which follows on the heels of recent sexual assaults at York University.

“Of course everyone is on edge,” Dosani said. “Who wouldn’t be? It’s kind of creepy knowing this guy is out there.”

Erin O’Doherty, a first-year student at the University of Toronto, resides at Woodsworth College near Bloor and St. George streets. She admitted feeling nervous after hearing of the Peeping Tom.

“I heard about it from my roommate, who learned of it on the news,” she said. “It’s nerve-wracking because my apartment faces Bloor St. and I heard he climbs fire escapes and peeks into windows.”

Nineteen-year-old O’Doherty resides in a suite-style apartment along with four other girls. She acknowledged that the dons at her residence have given this issue a lot of attention.

“They have notices and caution signs all over,” she said. “We were told to keep our blinds closed at night and to lock our doors.”

Dosani, 21, reiterated the importance of safety and caution when moving around campus at night.

‘Move in pairs or groups’

“We work together with Campus Police to reinforce safety,” she said. “We advise the girls to move in pairs or groups and to take advantage of the campus Walk Safe program.”

While O’Doherty does not worry too much about moving around campus at night, she remains concerned about her time at home.

“We have floor-to-ceiling windows,” she said. “They’re great but you can also see a lot. We are lucky the blinds cover everything.”

The 17-floor Woodsworth College residence mimics the numerous high-rise condominiums that dominate Bloor St. While newer residences appear modelled in a similar style, Dosani acknowledged the strength of older residences on campus.

“There is something to be said about the older residences,” she said. “Because they are just rooms as opposed to apartments, we all get to know one another very well — including the security desk. We really have no choice and I think that is a good thing.”

All residences on campus have 24-hour security protection and check-in desks. As a fourth year resident, Dosani takes pride in the safety measures the U of T has in place.

“I guess I’m lucky, because I have never had to experience anything that the girls at York went through in my years at U of T,” she said.

“Aside from the fact that the security is great, I think it helps that we are in the heart of downtown … it feels like everyone is watching out for one another, because there are so many residences so close together.”

This fact may remain true, as the campus stays well lit even after sunset. Nevertheless O’Doherty still feels the need to lock her doors and draw her blinds every night.

“Just knowing he’s out there is enough,” she said. “We think about this almost every night now. We remind each other; even if we’re cooking, the blinds will stay closed. We are constantly aware of every move we make nowadays.”