March 27, 2023

Life for female students on Ontario campuses can be difficult. Sexual and physical assault frequently occurs on campus and in campus dorm rooms. Although sexual assault is common, physical abuse is also something that happens on campuses as well.

On Sept. 25, around 9 p.m., Hanna Templeton, a female student at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., was trying to study and get work done when she decided to go out alone to get a coffee. While walking to the coffee shop, three men walking toward her started calling out to her to “hang out” with them.

“I ignored them, but before I passed them I got an uneasy feeling and I turned around. I heard them walk faster and as they got closer to me they were getting more and more angry. Then they began to call me ‘hard to get’,” Templeton told SpokeOnline.

Templeton said the three men crossed the street in order to cross back in front of her. They also began to call her “rude names.”

“I turned down the first street I could and just ran, I heard them chase me and catch up quickly. They pushed me down and started to beat me. By the end of it one guy in particular was still beating me and the other pulled at him and said, ‘it’s not worth it’ and they then sprinted off.

“I just lay there in pain, bruises already covering my arms and face. My face began to swell, I made sure they were gone before I got up. I got back to my apartment, iced up and my roommate called the police.”

Photo, showing her injuries, courtesy of Hanna Templeton

Templeton was technically off campus, which means that campus security was unable to get involved in the case and it has been in the hands of the London police. The school did offer her free counselling, a list of crisis lines that she can call, and a bell that will ring when she pulls the string if anything goes wrong to notify campus security or if she has to go out alone again.

“[The school] has been really supportive,” Templeton said.

But what can schools do in order to help prevent the different assault cases seen on campus?

Janessa Couturier, a University of Guelph veterinary office administration student, feels security cameras, additional lighting around campuses and more security in residence could help. Couturier also feels more education is needed.

“Be careful, don’t go out late at night alone, always have a buddy. Have a plan in place in case something does happen. Take caution when going out and drinking. Watch your drink and do not leave it unattended. Try to drink somewhat responsibly by not getting to the point of blacking out and have a safe way home,” said Couturier. “I definitely avoid going out late at night by myself.”

According to an article in Maclean’s, more than one in five women have experienced sexual assault, with about half of those happening during university or college.

Students who experience or witness assault on campus at Conestoga, should refer to these resources online. The college’s security services office has also published a Conestoga mobile safety app, available for free, that “integrates with Conestoga College’s safety and security systems.” The app sends users important safety alerts and provides access to campus safety resources.

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