Montreal

Concordia student speaks out after being harassed by unknown men on campus

Concordia University is upping security measures after a number of women have come forward to report being approached by insistent strangers on campus.

The university has increased security on campus following several reports

​Lisa Komlos, a women's studies student at Concordia, filed a complaint and took to social media to share her story after being harassed twice in the exact same way. (CBC)

​Concordia University is upping security measures after a number of women have come forward to report being approached by insistent strangers on campus.

One such student, ​​Lisa Komlos, told CBC she was harassed twice this month by young men in the exact same building.

In two separate incidents on March 11 and 26, Komlos said she was in the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV) at 1515 Ste-Catherine Street West.

​Komlos recalled that on each occasion, a young man in his 20s would approach her "with a sense of urgency," complimenting her appearance and asking her to go to a secondary location with him off-campus.

"He said, 'Can you come with me somewhere off-campus?' And I said, 'Absolutely not. Please leave me alone,'" Komlos said. "It felt very rehearsed."

She said the interaction made her feel "​very weird, very uncomfortable. I didn't like it." 

'The university has taken several measures to respond, including increasing security on campus,' Concordia said. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The second time, she noticed a man following her into the EV building and then, after using much the same script, refused to take no for an answer.

"Because of the similarities between the two, I knew something was really off right away," she said.

Sharing her story

After the second incident, Komlos decided she had to warn other students about what happened.

She contacted Concordia security and the school's Sexual Assault Resource Centre, but was told she couldn't immediately make an anonymous complaint.

She said the security official she spoke to insisted that she give her name and student ID number.

​Finally, Komlos decided to take to social media to warn other women.

After posting a video to Instagram, it garnered thousands of shares and an outpouring of similar stories from other women.

Concordia reacts

The University responded this weekend after news of the interactions began to circulate online.

"It has come to the university's attention that a number of female students have been approached on campus by strangers with unwanted and/or insistent invitations to accompany them elsewhere. The students report having felt uncomfortable and harassed," reads a statement posted on the university's social media pages.

"Concordia cares about the wellbeing of its community, and is committed to fostering a safe and respectful environment. The university has taken several measures to respond, including increasing security on campus."

For her part, Komlos said she is pleased that the university responded so quickly and proud of the other women who came forward.

​"This change only happened because other women spoke out," she said.

The school offers a Safe Walk Program, an accompaniment service, on a 24-hour basis. Upon request, security agents are available to accompany individuals to their car, public transport route or on-campus location.  

Concordia also offers a program that allows students to register to receive automatic safety checks on their phones, a service called "Checkmate."

Montreal police said Sunday they weren't aware of any incidents reported on Concordia's campus.

With files from CBC's Valeria Cori-Manocchio

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