McGill Student Sexually Harassed In Campus Bathroom Says School Needs To Do Better
"McGill has to do something this cannot be acceptable."
- In a viral Reddit post, an anonymous McGill University student details their experience of sexual harassment in the basement male bathroom of the McConnell Engineering Building.
- Several commenters have stated that the bathroom is a well-known spot for casual public sexual encounters.
- We spoke to the student and looked into the bathroom's status as a popular "cruising" location.
In a now-viral post to the r/McGill Reddit page, an anonymous McGill student details their experience of sexual harassment in a campus bathroom. Subsequent discussion on the post revealed that the bathroom has a wide reputation as a popular "cruising" spot for men seeking casual public sex. The student is now hoping that their post will serve as a warning to other unaware students and prompt the McGill administration to better secure the bathroom and other spaces on campus known as hotspots for sexual encounters.
We spoke to the survivor about their experience and the public reactions to their post. We also contacted the McGill administration for comment but have not received a response.
This article contains descriptions of sexual harassment, which may trigger some readers. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault or harassment, call the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre 514 933 9007 or find it online here.
In their Reddit post, the student says they went to the isolated male bathroom in the basement of the McConnell Engineering Building expecting privacy, but instead found most of the stalls and urinals occupied.
"As I go in I hear the stalls get locked and the guys at the urinals kinda turn to me while I pass them to get to the cabins in the back," they write.
They chose a stall in the back of the large bathroom and started using their phone after sitting down.
"Suddenly I hear a stall unlock, then another and another. As if it was synchronized. I see feet walking but like very slowly, and they were all 'congregating' at the end, pretty much one stall to my right."
The situation quickly escalated.
"I try to take a look from that tiny space between the door and I see an OLD guy literally stroking his D and looking at me straight in the eye. I start sweating and panicking."
"See I'm a pretty skinny guy, not very aggressive or defensive and pretty anxious. I was shocked, i tried looking at him with surprise making him understand i was uncomfortable but he kept on going."
The student then noticed a phone pointed at him above the stall.
"I literally say, 'YO WTF' and you hear them all move back to their stalls. I pull my pants up, put my jacket and put my bag, and I can hear MANY footsteps leaving the bathroom."
"I was scared and embarrassed."
As they left they passed the urinals and saw a man, "with his pants down to his ankles and also jerking off."
The students says they then left sweating and crying.
"I was in shock, it felt like I was raped and [stripped of] my privacy."
"I'm embarrassed and ashamed of myself and feel like shit for allowing this. I feel like my pride was destroyed the moment I saw a guy take a picture and disappear along with a guy flashing himself like that in front of me. If someone took a pic of me, who knows where it is right now."
"Something is going on in the basement of McConnell and I'm pretty sure is still going on."
In the days since the student made the post, several commenters have pointed out that the bathroom is well known as a popular cruising spot.
One individual pointed out that the bathroom is even rated on Squirt.org, a site for men and males seeking casual sex.
The Squirt post description calls the McConnell basement male bathroom "probably the best cruising spot in Montreal located on McGill campus."
"There is an area with many urinals, and the stalls are at the back, so there's lots of warning if someone comes in, and always lots of action. People cruising use the stalls furthest from the walkway," it states.
It's not the only university bathroom with a post on the site. The post for the McConnell bathroom notes that "if it's too busy, there is another big and less-used bathroom on the 4th floor of the same building (right in front of the stairs)."
A bathroom in McGill's Burnside Building and another in Concordia's Henry F. Hall building also have posts on the site.
We reached out to the student who experienced sexual harassment in the McConnell building to ask how they've been doing since they posted their story.
"I've been trying to get better, and move on," they say. "This happened during one of the hardest times in a semester (during finals), so I already had SO MUCH to worry about."
"Living it and trying to get through it is one thing, but getting outside of my comfort zone and TALKING about it publicly to another person is a whole other step that I couldn't take. I held it inside of me, cried the first day and felt like crap the second day, and God knows what would've happened on the third day if I didn't write about it and seek help."
"It was hard for me to write because I was raised in this whole environment where male sexual harassment is such a taboo to talk about, and if you do talk about it you're usually seen as a 'weak' person."
When asked about the discussion the post has generated and the dozens of responses they have received, the student said that "it gave [them] a sense of relief to simply talk about it without really being judged. Many people even talked about living a similar experience to mine in that SAME restroom. 2-3 others also messaged me about similar occurrences."
Asked if they believe the university has a responsibility to better secure the bathroom, the student responded, "absolutely."
"McGill has to do something this cannot be acceptable."
According to its website, the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre "offers a range of bilingual services free of charge to anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault, sexual abuse or incest. Services are also offered to the victim’s family and close friends."
You can visit its website here.