Statistically, Toronto is one of the safest cities in North America, however crime still does exist. Ryerson University’s priority is to create an environment where you feel safe to learn, work and live. If you are experiencing any concerns about safety, mental or physical health issues, or discrimination and harassment, the ISS team will provide you with support and guidance, and refer you to appropriate community resources. If you have questions about any of these issues, please call us at 416-979-5000 ext. 6655, email us, or drop by our office in POD-50A to speak with an International Student Advisor.
The following is a list of valuable information that all international students must be aware of in order to help stay safe.
1. Out in public
- Do not leave your purse, backpack, laptop, phone or other property unattended in public places such as the library or your classroom. If left alone, these items may be stolen or taken to the on-campus Lost & Found or Security office by someone passing by.
- Always be alert and walk with confidence. Know where you are going and how to get there. Whenever possible plan your route ahead of time or get directions from someone you trust.
- Be aware of who and what is around you. Trust your instincts and leave uncomfortable situations.
- At night, walk on well-lit, busy streets and try to be with another person. Avoid isolated areas such as parks, allies, etc.
- If you are on campus late at night, you can call Ryerson University’s “Walk Safe” program for a security escort on campus available 24 hours a day). Their contact information can be found below under Ryerson Security Operations Centre.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and try your best to never show money in public. Use bank debit and/or credit cards whenever possible. Never share your PIN or credit card number with others.
- Keep your passport in a safe place at home and carry a copy of your passport instead and other photo id.
- Do not accept rides from strangers or hitchhike. This may be normal in other countries but not the practice in Toronto and most places in Canada.
- Don’t argue or fight if you are being robbed. Yell loudly. (In some cases you will need to fight back to protect yourself if you are being attacked. Try to stop or distract the attacker so that you can escape.) Report the incident to the Police by dialing 9-1-1 immediately.
2. Staying at home
- Always lock your door and windows. Ensure that your room, apartment or house is always secure.
- Look through the peephole before answering your door.
- Never let someone into your building or “buzz them in” if you do not know them.
- Do not use transparent curtains or window coverings at home. Try to reduce the ability for others to see into your home.
3. Dealing with scam artists/fraud
- When you buy something, ensure that you receive a receipt. Review the receipt to make sure that you are charged the correct amount.
- Make sure that your debit/ credit card is returned immediately.
- If you rent an apartment, deal directly with the landlord. Do not give your information or rent money to any other person.
- Always pay your rent deposit with a cheque and always ask for a receipt. (Most landlords will ask you to pay first and last month’s rent in order to secure your apartment)
- If you require tutoring or assistance with your writing, always access a tutor authorized by Ryerson. Do not hire people claiming to be tutors and editors through private advertisements as they may not be qualified. Do not pay for their services in advance.
4. Going out to party
- The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19 years. ID is required to purchase alcohol and to enter bars, night clubs and casinos. We strongly recommend that you get an LCBO ‘Bring Your ID” card so that you do not have to bring your passport to a bar. Feel free to book an appointment with an advisor at ISS if you have any questions about how to apply
- It is illegal to drink in public places such as the sidewalk, public transportation, parks, beaches, or in vehicles.
- It is illegal to drink and drive a vehicle. Always use public transportation or a taxi if you know that you and your friends will be drinking. Know the numbers of local taxis to avoid walking home alone late at night.
- Know your drinking limits and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
- Never accept a drink from a stranger or leave your drink unattended. Always pay attention to the people around you.
- Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, MDMA, meth, ecstasy and marijuana are illegal to use and sell.
- Be direct, clear and assertive, if you do not want to see another person anymore. Even people you know can make unwanted advances or make you feel uncomfortable.
- If you are sexually active, visit the Ryerson Medical Centre for regular check ups , tests, and other inquires regarding sexual health.
- Always practice safe sex and use a condom.
- Sexual assault or rape occurs when someone forces or pressures you to have sex or touch you in a sexual way when you do not want to be touched. Most sexual assaults occur with someone we know. No means no. Let your date know your limits clearly and firmly. Seek medical treatment immediately if you are sexually assaulted.
- If you do not know your date, meet and stay in a public place with other people around.
- No one has the right to hit you. Assault by romantic partners, roommates, spouses, friends and family members is illegal. Report abuse to the police immediately.
6. Consent Comes First
In Ontario consent is an affirmative, enthusiastic ‘yes’ that is ongoing and freely given. Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual contact that can happen within or outside of a relationship. Sexual violence affects people of all ages, genders and sexualities. ISS will provide support to anyone who is a survivor of sexual violence. To learn more about consent and resources on sexual violence, please visit the Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education (http://www.ryerson.ca/sexual-violence/)
7. Police, fire, ambulance/9-1-1
- Call 9-1-1 (Police, Fire, Ambulance) if you are in trouble or see a crime in progress. It is free to call 9-1-1 from any payphone/phone booth. Try to stay calm and tell the operator what happened. If you are a victim of crime, regardless of how small the crime, it is best to report it to the police.
- There are operators available who can speak your language, so let them know your language if that is more comfortable for you.
Sources: Ryerson Security & Emergency Services, Vancouver Police Department
For more information and support view ISS' Student Safety Resources for on-campus services on-campus available to students.