Voyeurism incidents lead to closure of Gender Neutral Bathrooms on Toronto College Campus
October 6, 2015
Officials at the University of Toronto were forced to eliminate their “gender neutral” bathroom policy after a string of incidents involving women being filmed while showering. On at least two separate occasions last month, female students spotted cell phones being held over the stall partition to record them while they bathed. The perpetrators have not been caught. No word yet on whether the victims will sue the University for putting them at risk with the policy, which restricted women’s ability to bathe and use the toilet away from the presence of men.
“Toronto Police Const. Victor Kwong said Monday that two women in separate instances at the Whitney Hall residence reported that they saw a cellphone reach over the shower-stall dividers in an attempt to record them. Police have yet to find any information about the culprit, but the investigation is ongoing.
At least one gender-neutral washroom remains on each floor.
Melinda Scott, the dean of students at University College, said some bathrooms in Whitney Hall have now been designated specifically for residents who identify as men or women. However, several gender-neutral bathrooms remain.
“The purpose of this temporary measure is to provide a safe space for the women who have been directly impacted by the incidents of voyeurism and other students who may feel more comfortable in a single-gender washroom,” said Scott.
“On two separate occasions — September 15 and 19 — two female residents at the university’s Whitney Hall residence building were the victims of voyeurism, having been filmed while they were showering. As a result, Whitney Hall and its four University College (UC) housing affiliates have revoked their gender neutral policy on many of the residence’s washrooms.
It fell to Melinda Scott, dean of students at UC, to break the news. “Given the serious nature of these incidents and the impact on directly affected students, we made the decision to specifically designate some washrooms throughout the building for those who identify as men and those who identify as women. At the same time, there remains at least one gender-neutral washroom per floor and per house,” Scott said in a statement to The Varsity.
Many students are in shock. “It’s scary to think that there’s someone nearby that’s doing that kind of thing,” said Tessa Mahrt-Smith, a first-year Whitney resident. Melissa Birch, also a first-year resident of Whitney and shares Mahrt-Smith’s sentiments. “I think it sucks that there are going to be people that don’t feel safe in Whitney now, and that we can’t have an inclusive environment.”