Najma Hashi, Lourd Albanna, Tehmina Mirza, John Pattee

Imagine you have just spent a long day on campus—which should not be too difficult to imagine. You have just finished your 8:45 p.m. class and are ready to go home. You walk out of your class, put your jacket on and begin walking down the hallway. You open the door to the echoing stairwell with each footstep emitting a hollow sound.

As you near landing, you reach into your pocket to get your keys. You leave the building and start walking across the parking, thinking about finally getting some sleep.

You are just entering a dream of warm, home-cooked food, when a shadow emerges from behind a parked car and starts running toward you.

In that moment, you freeze.

“If I could learn to defend myself I would definitely feel safer on campus.”

Bismah Ali, third-year media studies student

Issues of assault and other forms of physical danger are a sad reality in the Greater Toronto Area.

At the end of 2017, a string of disappearances and deaths in the Church-Wellesley area took over headlines. That is just the most recent and local danger, but a host of other violent crimes have also increased across Canada since 2016.

Reports of Assault in Canada (2016)

  • Other forms of assault (42%)
  • Physical Assault (58%)

It is important to reflect on these issues at an even closer level, such as on the University of Guelph-Humber and Humber College’s North campus. Having knowledge of these occurrences addresses what students should prepare for and how they can defend themselves. A common concern is also the response time for when incidents do arise.

“My concerns would be mostly on response time of public safety when there is an emergency. Especially when it comes to harassment, as it is something that needs to be addressed with not only the victim but the others involved.”

Jessica Marie Jeffery, Humber College resident assistant

Twitter poll

Our team conducted a Twitter poll to determine the output of our task. Out of the 346 students who voted, 51% said they felt safe on campus and 49% either did not feel safe or felt safe “sometimes” on their campus.

Our main objective was to appeal to the 17% of students that said they do not feel safe on campus and to the 32% that said they feel safe, “sometimes.”

Arming yourself

The most critical time to stop an attack is before it happens. Taekwondo instructor Anisah Haniff explains that students should be aware of their surroundings especially at night. There are five common ways in which attack begins and most incidents can be overcome by being perceptive. Here, we have presented those five scenarios with moves that students should learn to deescalate serious attacks.

1-  When approaching residence or your car to commute home, a sudden grab from behind can be dangerously surprising. Taekwondo instructor Anisah Haniff will demonstrate how you can take on this situation.

 

2-  A very common form of assault is punching, meaning that this move could be very applicable. Watch and learn from Haniff on how you can make the necessary blocks and counters from a swing.

 

3-  Choking is especially harmful, since being cut off from oxygen makes you lose your strength. This is an important move that students should be able to perform.

 

4-  This move applies to when an attacker grabs the victim’s clothing or hair.

 

5-  What can be most dangerous of all is when the attacker possesses a weapon. Haniff demonstrates how to effectively disarm the attacker.

 

While certain dangers remain common, we hope these five self-defence tactics will help students feel safer on campus.  At the very least, it creates a better equipped student population, whether or not they may face these situations.