"York University is a Safe Place for Students"

Published: February 8th 2010

York University
Pic: WikiMedia Commons


In the wake of last week’s incident involving Jewish students on its campus, York University has made available to the media a surveillance video documenting the incident, which took place in Vari Hall on the university’s campus.


The video was taken using the closed circuit cameras which are installed on campus, and although there is no audio as the camera is placed in a high traffic area, it clearly shows the events which took place between 4pm and 5pm on Monday, February 1, the day in question.  The table which was set up by the Hasbara group at York is visible, and no more than about 15 to 30 people are seen around the table at any given time. At one point, it can be seen that an argument may have taken place; however, at no point during the video is there any evidence of a brawl, nor can a shouting match be evident from the students’ body language. At several points cameras are being used by the students, and at one point a female student who obviously does not take well to being on camera tries to reach for the camera, but the male student holding it lifts it up so it is out of her reach. No evidence of students being physically assaulted can be found during the video. York’s security officers are seen towards the end of the video taking statements from students who were on scene.


Alex Bilyk, Director of Media Relations at York University, told Shalom Life that an investigation into the incident is currently underway. “The students themselves did not want to involve the Toronto Police Service but that was not sufficient for us. As an institution we wanted to ensure that the involvement among the students was not at the level that would raise concerns for physical safety. We reviewed the CCTV tapes and saw that there was no reason to involve the Toronto Police Service. If we had been concerned about physical safety we definitely would have acted differently, but because of the nature of some of the allegations, we asked the Toronto Police Services Hate Crimes Unit to look into some of those allegations. We have also started proceedings under a code of student conduct. An adjudicator has been appointed and students involved are being contacted.”


Bilyk said that he believes that the York University campus is a safe place for students. “If you look at the statistics for York University we’re about at a quarter to one-fifth the crime rate of the general statistic for all of Toronto. You’d expect a university to be a safer place. People are motivated, they’re going to school etc.


“The Toronto Police Service are excellent in what they do and specialize in what they do. We are very lucky to have a very good relationship with them. Their response is extremely fast. We have police go through the campus, since we’re a community of 60,000 people so you would expect to have some police presence somewhere at anytime. We also have a good relationship with Division 31. They will respond at a second’s notice and we rely on them for any criminal matters as anybody else would,” Bilyk concluded.


Hasbara Fellowships at York University would not comment on the contents of the surveillance video.


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