UBC’s Response to the Sex Assault Cases

Today, I received two emails, one text message, and a voice mail within a span of maybe three hours, all directed to communicate the same information to me. And I am not annoyed at all. Actually, I am glad that I am receiving the information through so many different channels from UBC, because that means UBC is doing something right and making sure that I know what’s going on.

Due to a series of sexual assault incidences that happened on campus recently, the entire campus is in a sort of an alert mode. Apparently, there have been six assaults on campus since April of this year that the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) now thinks are related.

This is definitely off the charts for such on-campus assaults. I mean, UBC really hasn’t been that dangerous of a campus in my mind. There was one incident that was reported a couple of years ago, based on my iffy memory, but that’s about all I can remember in the span of four years I spent on campus (yes, more of the hours were spent on campus than outside of it). Yes, we get regular tourists going to the Wreck Beach walking across the campus to get to the bus loop topless during the summer, but none that made me feel super unsafe. So it’s really unfortunate that these series of incidents happened and it really seems to have affected female student’s sense of safety on campus these days.

After each incident, the university sends out an email reporting it as a safety alert. And those of you on campus email list would know by now that we’ve received three such emails in the Sept/Oct period — scary and very unfortunate news.

The message is obvious, clear, and loud. Don’t walk alone at night. Use AMS SafeWalk service, or get someone to walk you. Carry a whistle etc.

These are simple messages, and they don’t really help in terms of how can an on-campus female actively protect herself other than locking herself in her room when it’s dark. But it does help in the sense that it raises people’s awareness of what’s going on, and get people to be more cautious. I tend to be on the overly cautious side, so don’t blame me if you don’t see me at the lab at 7pm any more. But how could I not? I hear the incidents being discussed everywhere, everyday. On top of that, based on CBC’s report, the locations of the assaults are super close to the areas I hang out on campus, yikes!

I’ve been hearing people talk about it at coffee line ups, walk to the bus loop, at the pottery studio, and also head about it on CBC radio this morning. This actually means the messages are being sent to the right people, and the news being heard by the right audience — that’s a good thing. I do feel that there’s more police presence on campus after dark, although that doesn’t mean I’ll feel safer walking alone at night. But it also means that people are just really looking forward to thinking about UBC as a safe campus where vigilance when alone at night is obviously necessary for both women and men as everywhere else in Canada, but not to the point of knowing that there’s a serial groper loose nearby.

For my dearest lady friends, please do take a look at the map of assaults and identify areas that are dark near your usual paths on campus. The places marked on the map are certainly areas that I didn’t consider as dark or sketchy before.

For those of you looking for a bit more information about this topic, has a tip they think may be useful to the police in their efforts to find the suspect, watch Sgt. Peter Thiessen’s video reporting on the incidents (below, from CBC), what the RCMP is doing about it, and how to stay safe.

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