Students voice concerns about TTC’s new anti-harassment campaign

In early September, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) released their new anti-harassment campaign entitled #ThisIsWhere. The campaign consists of posters and ads in stations and vehicles, highlighting instances of harassment of all forms, and using a hashtag to collect people’s diverse stories. 

A TTC news release states that “the campaign confronts different kinds of harassment through a series of real-life customer encounters, including sexual harassment and harassment based on gender identity, ability, and race.” 

This campaign has been received by students and commuters with mixed feelings. 

Stefan Vladusic, a physics major at the University of Toronto, St. George campus and a seasoned commuter is divided about how the campaign presents the issue of harassment: “On one hand, it is bringing up legitimate issues regarding harassment on the TTC, drivers, and passengers get harassed way more than most would think. On the other hand, it portrays assault and harassment as something very obvious and overt. I think it misses the mark on how most people who’ve been harassed on the TTC have experienced that harassment.”  

Vladusic comments on the forms of harassment that he has witnessed on the TTC: “I’ve commuted every day since I was 14 […] I’ve seen less explicit forms of assault, like pushing, shoving, spitting, verbal slurs, nearly weekly.” 

“What should be communicated is not only that assault is bad, but also that many things one might not think to be assault are, in fact, assault,” comments Vladusic. 

Druv Sareen, a journalism student at Humber who uses the TTC two to five times a week, speaks to the campaign’s shortcomings: “It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.”  

Sareen says, “It doesn’t help the bigger issue, which is that people on the TTC are disconnected from each other and don’t feel like standing up for each other, when people see stuff going down they just put in headphones and turn up their music.”  

Amy Freeman, a neuroscience major at UTSG feels that the campaign and app “might make people more motivated to report harassment, but mainly just raises awareness about how often these things happen.” 

#ThisIsWhere is also a promotion for the TTC’s new mobile app “SafeTTC,” an app for discreetly reporting harassment, available on the App Store or Google Play. 

On the #ThisIsWhere website, there are resources, stories, and a link to the app download. The site also highlights other ways of reporting harassment, such as using the intercom in Designated Waiting Areas or pressing the yellow emergency strip located on vehicles. 

More information about the campaign can be found at thisiswhere.ca 

Photo | Hana Nikčević