York students robbed at gunpoint

TORONTO (CUP) -- Four people were robbed at gunpoint as they were playing poker in a York University cafeteria last week.

Five students and another individual were playing poker on March 15 at around 10 p.m. when they were approached by two men who took their money, cellphones and wallets.

According the York security information bulletin posted around campus the following day, the suspects wore stockings on their heads and one carried a long handgun.

Toronto Police confirmed that they received a call about the incident and arrived shortly thereafter to obtain descriptions of the suspects from the victims.

“One student claimed $60 to $70,” stated Alex Bilyk, director of media relations at York. There were other sums of money on the table as well.

Modupe Olaogun, master of Stong College, suggested that the robbery might have been connected to the presence of gambling funds placed openly on the table.

“There has been poker playing elsewhere on campus, and we suspected that it was possible that the robbery incident was inspired by the poker playing,” she said.

“We haven't been experiencing armed robbery incidents in Stong College prior to now.”

As a result, Stong College has banned poker playing in the college cafeteria effective immediately. A number of other buildings on campus also have rules against gambling.

Pond Road Residence states in their handbook “a violation of their standards is to participate in and/or run an illegal gambling or gaming operation,” said Cynthia Summers, director of York's Student Conduct and Dispute Resolution Office.

The York University Student Code of Conduct, which provides regulations on student behaviour, does not specifically mention gambling. It does, however, specify that York students must abide by any federal, provincial or municipal law under which gambling is dealt with.

Gambling with small amounts of people and money is not illegal, and the Student Code of Conduct only bans illegal gambling, said Bilyk.

Summers explained that even though the student code does not speak to gambling, it could be included by next year if the York community is in favour.

Olaogun said that she would like to see gambling banned if the issue arises in a code of conduct review.

“Particularly, the kind of gambling that can attract unwanted elements can compromise security,” she said.

Summers, who was on the task force that developed the new code of conduct last year, explained that a review of 31 other codes did not turn up any instances of gambling regulations on campus.

“We've not had a case yet where gambling has been brought forward as a student complaint,” Summers said.