Content Warning: Description of sexual harassment
Since late December, multiple posts have circulated on social media reporting that a man has been preying on women at McGill’s McLennan-Redpath Complex. Posts on r/McGill, a student-run Reddit subpage for the university, have denounced the man for soliciting multiple women students in Redpath. Various sources confirmed being approached by a man with a similar description in Redpath at different dates.
Teddy Laughton, U2 Nursing, was having lunch in the Redpath cafeteria when she was approached by a man in his late 20s who was “standing around in the cafeteria.” According to her, the man did not appear to be a McGill student.
“After making it clear that I didn’t want him to keep talking to me, a few minutes later I saw that he was talking to another group of girls, shaking their hands and I could tell that they were all uncomfortable,” Laughton told The McGill Tribune.
Laughton notified the employees of Redpath Café and was assured that staff would “keep an eye on him and call security if necessary.” Yet, she recalls seeing the man in the cafeteria some 20 minutes later, and believes that he should have been removed from the premises.
Anne-Émilie Demaison, U1 Arts, also had an encounter with the man in early January, this time on the second floor of Redpath.
“I felt an insistent gaze, and whenever I would look up from my computer he would be staring at me,” Demaison said in an interview with the Tribune. “He was sitting one table across from me and had one hand constantly on his [crotch]. There were few people on the floor and I began to panic and called as many of my friends as I could for them to come and help me. I left to go to the bathroom, and when I came back to my seat I saw that he had moved to my table. I quickly gathered all my stuff and got out of there.”
Demaison says that her first reflex was to seek assistance from her friends instead of searching for security guards who roam the floors of the Redpath and McLennan but are otherwise difficult to locate.
Demaison feels that the security presence in the library is lacking considering the entire complex has nine floors.
“It was late and there weren’t many people on the floor, so I didn’t have many options to turn to,” Demaison said. “Maybe security at the entrance of the libraries, or even signs to indicate how to contact security services in the case of an emergency could help students feel safer.”
An increased security presence would not necessarily guarantee the safety of all students. Many studies show that increased surveillance, even by campus security guards or police officers, lead to a disproportionate number of negative encounters for racialized students.
The Tribune reached out to librarians at the McLennan-Redpath Complex to inquire about the university’s student safety measures. The staff present at the time declined to comment, and referred the Tribune to the university’s communications team instead.
Fréderique Mazerolle, a McGill media relations officer, explained that the Campus Public Safety Department strives to promote a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff to work in.
“Our agents patrol the campus, manage access, transport students and staff with disabilities as well as respond to incidents and emergencies on a 24-hour basis,” Mazerolle wrote in an email to the Tribune. “Ensuring the safety of the McGill community is our ultimate and continuous goal.”
The Tribune was unable to get a statement from the library’s security guards, whose contracts are outsourced to Garda Security Group and cannot comment on security protocols. The Campus Public Safety Department also declined to comment.
If you are concerned for your safety on campus, McGill’s security services can be reached at 514-398-3000. The Campus Public Safety department’s Night Route Maps also outline recommended routes for navigating the campus in the dark and locate emergency phones for contacting additional security.
An interesting and well built article !
Security needs to remain a priority in this great institution and harassers need to be in jail ! For life if you ask me !