Social media post sparks campus safety conversations
By Katia Maria Gallardo, Contributor
An Instagram post on the page, MRU Ranter, an online gathering hub for Mount Royal University (MRU) students, has been circulating around the campus body. The post, which was originally shared through an Instagram story, claims that the student who posted was followed and harassed on the way to her car by an unknown male. Since then, several female students have come forward, both online and in-person, with accounts of harassment on campus describing the same individual.
Multiple students were interviewed by The Reflector about their individual incidents with this person of interest, and their accounts are generally consistent with each other. The man in question has been reported to be harassing women on campus by approaching them and asking them out for drinks, car rides, walks and some personal information. Some female students also said he would still insist on going on dates with them even after they refused and tried to leave.
Megan, a third-year student at MRU, said that the incidents make her feel more on edge than she previously was.
“Hearing others’ stories made it all feel much more scary, because it made it seem more sinister and intentional, than simply a man ‘being nice’,” she said.
All of the girls who were interviewed urged caution when walking alone or staying late on campus, suggesting various safety measures already in place may help in a pinch. Autumn*, a third year student at MRU, said caution is key.
“Be careful and don’t give personal information […] like where I was coming, where I was going,” Autumn said.
Sarah, a first year student from MRU, said more should be done to inform the campus body about programs like Safewalk at school.
Safewalk is a service where students or staff can call security by a phone number and/or helpline towers and have security escort them to their needed destination without worry. An example use of this service is for late night classes where an individual may feel more secure with an extra body walking with them. Safewalk is available 24 hours a day.
“I’ve heard about it once, but it wasn’t explained to me. […] they should make that more known,” Sarah said. She concluded by saying that it would have been convenient to know about Safewalk the day that she was harassed.
“Walk with someone. If you’re being out late, go with somebody, have somebody pick you up… Always be with somebody.” Sarah suggested. “And to the guys, keep track of your friends.”
While some students expressed shock and outrage that something like this happened at MRU, others were less surprised.
Megan said, “I feel like for the most part I feel relatively safe here, especially with it being a smaller university, with a generally comfortable vibe. I was a little taken aback that this is happening at my school, but honestly I am not at all surprised since it seems there are people like that everywhere.”
In an interview with The Reflector, Manesha Sidhu, acting manager of Mount Royal Security Services, said that she recognizes that this situation may make people feel uneasy, but there are many supports across campus available for the community.
“We have advised the individual we believe to be associated to these incidents to not access campus if they are not using any of our services. It is recommended that the campus community reach out to Security should they […] see any concerning behaviour,” Sidhu said.
MRU Security Services is located near the West Gate entrance and their non-emergency number is open 24 hours. The MRU security website also has a google form for students to fill out in case of an emergency so they know where to locate those students.
MRU also has support for anyone who has been impacted by dating, domestic or sexual violence. Cari Ionson, the dating, domestic & sexual violence response and awareness coordinator can be reached by her email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Not their real name.