The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
This week at Niagara College, the student body was about the only group talking about the assault that occured on Jan. 17 in the Black Walnut building at the Welland campus. That’s because nearly every facet of school administration, including security, has been uncharacteristically silent about the incident.
Attentive readers will notice a fundamental difference between Niagara News’ coverage of this crime and that of local news outlets. Although most media facilities simply quoted the official Niagara Regional Police (NRP) press release, which states, "Niagara College security personnel were notified and subsequently contacted Niagara Police," our coverage included the victim’s perspective.
After responding to the attempted theft of personal property and sexual assault of the young female student, security allegedly told her that although a report would be filed, it was "her responsibility" to take that to higher authorities.
The victim alleges the NRP dispatcher questioned her about why college security wasn’t placing the call.
If you were an inquisitive student and, like me, were to consult Niagara College’s Health and Safety Practice procedures on criminal harassment, you would find it is defined as both "sexual assaults and other sexual offences" and "robbery or extortion." Reading further, you’d probably discover the Security Staff’s responsibilities outlined to include calling the police "if necessary, or if requested."
You may understand the administration’s hesitancy to discuss the issue. You’d probably also expect them to vow to increase security measures in that particular building. That has happened, as reported in the front page story.
For over a week, the college has dammed up communication about this issue to the point that outside of the few calculated answers from administration, our reporter has only the details given by the victim and witness of the attack.
Referring once again to the college’s policy on harassment, it states, "The final step in the procedure shall consist of a thorough review of its effectiveness and recommendations for improvement."
Any readers with comments, concerns or "recommendations for improvement" can email them to email@example.com and I’d be happy to pass them along.