Two women who were shot and wounded at York University in March, along with six other people, are now suing the school for $20.5 million, saying the school doesn’t “prioritize security” for students.
Qurratul Ain Malik (Aini) Malik, 19, and Namra Malik, 20, who are not related, were shot in the food court at the York University Student Centre around 10:45 p.m. on March 6.
Both Aini and Namra were innocent bystanders and were not targeted. Their injuries were not life-threatening and they have been released from hospital. Suspect Kemon Edwards, 22, was arrested on March 14.
Aini, who still has a bullet lodged in her leg, said the shooting has left her unable to do household tasks and she is afraid to go back to school.
“I really feel betrayed and let down by York University as they’ve jeopardized the security of not only me and my friends but over 50,000 students at York,” she said at a news conference on Thursday morning.
Aini and Namra said police arrived at the scene of the crime before on-campus security.
“Even after the firefighters and police came to the scene to help with the situation, there were no security personnel seen anywhere,” Aini said.
The other six victims cited psychological harm after witnessing the shooting.
Aini’s lawyer, Sandra Zisckind, alleged a pattern of negligence by university officials when it comes to student safety.
“Thousands and thousands of students and families that send their students there hoping they’ll be safe deserve answers as to why this appears to be happening at one campus in Toronto,” Zisckind said.
York University said Thursday that statistics prove that York is as safe, or safer, than other campuses in the GTA. The school also said it was in the midst of a multi-year plan to improve on-campus security.
After the shooting, the university said it had taken several measures to “enhance safety” on campus, which included increasing security patrols.
It’s not enough, according to some students. In the aftermath of the shooting, as well as recent sexual assaults and robberies, York student Stephanie Castellano started a petition to get more police on campus.
The petition calls for a model similar to the University of Toronto’s, where a dedicated police force patrols campus. The officers are special constables reporting to the Toronto and Peel police service boards, so they have essentially the same powers as a police officer while working on campus.
Read the details of the lawsuit below:
Below is a statement issued by York University on the lawsuit:
We empathize greatly with the survivors who are suffering as a result of this terrible and random criminal activity on our campus.
Fortunately Toronto Police Service, with assistance from York, was able to quickly make arrests in this case.
York University’s first priority is to provide a safe environment where people can study, live and work.
The university has a multi-year safety and security plan — this has resulted in many enhancements over the last several years, with ongoing enhancements planned
Statistics prove that York is as safe, or safer, than other campuses in the Great Toronto area.
York University has been proactive and diligent in its approach to ensuring its campus is safe, including working closely with Toronto Police Service.
Below are some of their current security measures (data provided by the university):
- 76 security officials, with two more officials being added in each of the next two to three years
- Security personnel from Residence Watch Program at residences from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
- 56 exterior “Blue Light” phones are located on the Keele Campus and six at Glendon
- Interior safety phones located in building hallways
- 70 LCD screens installed across the Keele campus, with two at Glendon
- Over 600 CCTV cameras installed across the Keele campus
- Security bulletins are emailed to all students and staff and posted on its website
- Emergency PA system currently installed in Ross & HNES, with systems to come in Vari Hall, Student Centre and York Lanes
- Safety information provided on the Safer Together website
- York U Mobile Safety App: provides contact information for the safety resources on campus
- Emergency Preparedness Plan in place that allows security to communicate with effected areas on campus
- Walking escort service goSAFE operates 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the fall/winter and 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the summer
According to the university, it invested $10.2 million in safety and security-related measures.