Recent assault sparks open letter on campus safety

Last week another student was assaulted on a Sheridan campus. In light of similar assaults earlier in the year, our club partnered with MoveU in March to run a Self-Defence for Women class and to participate in an Empowerment and Personal Safety workshop for students in residence.

In April, I travelled to Trafalgar to attend the SheridanTalk on Mental Health. While there, I walked the trails on which students had been assaulted in order to better understand the situation. That day I spoke in person with, or left contact information for, the Clubs Coordinators at HMC and Trafalgar. However, I did not hear back from either.

In the summer, our club offered free weekly Self-Defence classes. Unfortunately, we were not able to advertise them because we could not access funds from the Student Union; funds we had set aside for this purpose.

Meanwhile, the changes that the college implemented regarding security on the trails around Trafalgar campus has not stopped students from being assaulted. This is because the college has focused on Personal Safety (how not to be a target) with efforts such as SafeWalk, and ignored arming the students with the skills to avoid becoming a victim when they are targeted, i.e. Self-Defence.

It is time that the college, which is responsible for the security of students and the Student Union, which is the voice of students, recognize that individual safety still best resides with the individual. We need to offer students, who are on our campuses for years – some of them in residence, away from their homes and families for the first time – skills that they can take with them on life’s journey.

As such, and in light of Sheridan’s “brand identity”, I am suggesting a “creative” solution: an elective (general education) course on Personal Safety & Self-Defence. Our club ran another Self-Defence for Women class on October 12, with a further one scheduled for November 24, but a couple of hours a semester is not enough to empower students against bullying, harassment, and assault.

It is our hope that the college and the Student Union will work with us, and each other, to continue to improve the safety of its students.

Kevin Clink

Club Ambassador
Sheridan Jiu-Jitsu & Self-Defence
Davis Campus