All Posts Tagged With: "safety"
One seriously injured, 30 relocated
The University of Guelph has confirmed that a fire in Dundas Hall, East Residence on Saturday evening, just a few days before the start of final exams, was set by a 20-year-old male student. The student was injured and admitted to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Two staff members were also taken to a hospital and released. Although the fire was contained to the student’s room, about 30 other students in the building were relocated as a precautionary measure. The university says it is “aware that there is disturbing social media activity circulating about this incident,” and has reminded students and employees that emergency counseling is available.
Instead of drinking, focus on the sex predators next door
Last month, hundreds paraded through the campus of the University of British Columbia to protest sexual violence, speciﬁcally six unsolved late-night outdoor attacks on female students since April. A hooded predator prowling dark grounds in search of coeds is a familiar conceit, one that informs how we think of sexual violence on campuses. Recently it was given airing in a Toronto Life story that claimed increased safety measures at Toronto’s York University, where women receive “rape whistles” at orientation, haven’t prevented campus grounds from being “a hunting ground for sexual predators.” (The school has taken legal action, claiming the article “presents a wholly distorted picture of women’s safety on the campus.”) Yet the UBC march to “Take Back the Night”—a rallying cry since the ’70s—bristled with more nuanced references to the reality of campus sexual assault, the vast majority of which are never reported nor easily framed in black-and-white terms. Signs held high connected the current attacks with entrenched “rape culture”—sexual violence being ignored, condoned and normalized, witnessed in the “rape chant” on the UBC campus in September. Other placards decried the RCMP reporting some UBC victims were wearing short skirts: “My little black dress does not mean yes,” read one.
UBC administration responded to concerns and fear with predictable reassurances. President Stephen Toope described the university as “one of the safest campuses in North America” and announced “unprecedented police and security measures to make sure students feel safe.”
Man, 18, recovering after campus attack
An 18-year-old male University of British Columbia student is recovering after being slashed in the back several times with a knife during an early morning attempted robbery, according to UBC RCMP. Police offered a written statement that says the attack is not connected to the recent series of late-night sexual assaults on campus. They warned students to be “constantly vigilant and aware of their potential vulnerability when walking alone on Campus in the very early hours of the morning.”
From the release:
The student was returning to his student residence complex in the 2500 block of West Mall just after 4 a.m. when he was suddenly confronted from behind by an unknown male brandishing a small knife and demanding his wallet and mobile phone. The attacker lunged towards the student slashing at him as the student attempted to run away. The student escaped from his attacker, foiling the robbery, however the student did sustain several superficial cuts to his back and shoulders requiring minor medical treatment. The attacker fled on foot in an unknown direction after the student escaped. The attacker is described as an Caucasian male approximately 40 years old. This male had a greying beard and short grey hair. He was of average build and was wearing a light coloured hoodie and black sweat pants.
Mounties release sketch of man suspected in six assaults
VANCOUVER – Mounties have released a composite sketch of the man believed to be behind six sexual assaults since April at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The sketch shows a Caucasian man wearing a hooded sweater, with an olive or darker skin tone, a rounder chin, broad forehead, straight nose and short dark hair.
All six victims were walking alone late at night when they were jumped from behind and groped, and one was punched in the face.
Three of the attacks occurred in October, one was reported in late September and investigators announced last month that separate incidents in April and May are also connected.
UBC President Stephen Toope says the attacks are an extremely unusual occurrence on what he calls one of the safest campuses in North America.
Hundreds expected at rally after sex assaults
VANCOUVER – Six sex assaults at the University of British Columbia have resulted in an unprecedented police presence on the campus where fear has spread among students, staff and the community, says the facility’s president.
Stephen Toope told a news conference that unlike many other inner-city universities, UBC is situated on a large amount of open space, requiring a different type of response to give people a sense of security.
“This is one of the safest campuses in North America. There is not normally a climate of fear or of insecurity on the campus,” he said.
RCMP’s major crimes section has taken over the investigation and say one man is believed to be responsible for three attacks this month and similar incidents in April, May and September.
Some say assault response too focused on fear
VANCOUVER – Women at the University of British Columbia are being urged to stay safe, don’t walk alone at night, carry a whistle, ask for a late-night escort.
But some on the campus gripped by worry over the presence of an apparent serial sex attacker are questioning why there isn’t more focus on condemning the crime in the first place.
Despite the good intentions of campus security to inform women of measures to protect themselves, the emphasis seems to be falling on only women, said Anisa Mottahed, manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre at UBC.
“It’s not speaking to the population in a way that I think it should be,” said Mottahed. “So instead of focusing on the fear piece, looking at the collective responsibility piece is a little more important.”
Bus ads warn females
VANCOUVER – The University of British Columbia is putting extra safety measures in place following several sexual assaults on campus, but the response itself is stirring controversy just a few weeks after scandal erupted over a frosh-week rape chant.
The university is holding emergency meetings to alert students, handing out whistles and says it will install more lighting and step-up its late-night Safewalk program after three reported assaults.
The institution is also running a series of ads on 100 buses that come to the campus warning female students not to walk alone.
The response from one anonymous student is a series of unofficial posters warning males not to be rapists, saying a woman walking alone at night is not an invitation to assault.
Just last month, the Sauder School of Business, where the first-year commerce students involved in the chant attend class, was defaced with graffiti attacking the “rape culture” at the university.
Louise Cowin, vice-president of students for UBC, says practical safety measures are the priority, but she says a wider discussion is necessary and the university is forming a group to look at the issue and report back with recommendations.
Testing out the safety service after multiple attacks
On Thursday night, I waited at the corner of Main Mall and Agricultural Road at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was dark and foggy. Any other night, I might have just braved the six minute walk to the Student Union Building, but after two assaults involving young women on campus earlier this month—a 19-year-old was groped under her skirt at 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 and a 20-year-old was attacked on Oct. 13— I wanted to test out Safewalk, the student-run program providing chaperones to those who feel unsafe walking alone at night.
Although I spent four years at UBC and knew about the service from day one, I’d never bothered to call. I’m not the only one.
Safewalk is a student service available across Canada, usually manned by volunteers, although the Alma Mater Society student group that runs it at UBC pays its walkers. After a string of assaults—there was at least one more reported over the weekend when a 17-year-old girl was dragged into the bushes late at night and left with a black eye—I knew there would be renewed discussion about the service, which is used to reassure students that measures are in place to protect them. Indeed, the RCMP recommended on Monday that women not walk alone at night and instead use Safewalk. Last week, I wanted to see: how useful is it?
I called at 8:03 p.m., a few minutes after Safewalk started taking requests for the night. They answered my call right away and said someone would be there in under 30 minutes. Perhaps due to the recent spike in assaults, the service was busier than usual. Regardless, it felt too long to wait.
Students warned not to walk alone at night
VANCOUVER – The RCMP’s Major Crimes Unit has taken over the investigation into a series of late-night assaults against female students at the University of British Columbia as officials work to increase safety measures at the Vancouver campus.
The third attack in three weeks involved a man grabbing the woman from behind, ripping her nylons and punching her in the face as she walked to her residence.
Sgt. Drew Grainger of the RCMP’s university detachment said the latest victim suffered a black eye and that the escalating violence has led police to focus more resources on finding the suspect who’s been described in each case as tall, thin, wearing a black hoodie and being in his late 20s.
Police met Monday with UBC administrators and officials from campus security and student housing to discuss the use of more lighting and video cameras to protect students and prevent other types of crimes.
Violent incident caught on surveillance video
Police in Windsor, Ont. have arrested two men after a violent robbery near the University of Windsor campus that was caught on surveillance video. Two men walked up to the victim, a 32-year-old student, around 2:05 a.m. on Aug. 1st and shouted, “What you got?,” before punching him repeatedly and stealing his backpack. Police released the video to local news organizations and received tips that led to one man’s arrest on Sunday while another turned himself in on Monday. The suspects are Windsor residents aged 19 and 24. Names have not yet been released.
Charges are pending
A Portuguese Water Dog died of heat exhaustion after being left for at least three hours in a Volkswagen parked in a sunny lot at Acadia University on Monday, reports the King’s County Register. “One person tried to rescue the animal by smashing the windows and attempting first aid, but the attempt was too late,” according to the newspaper. “A 36-year-old Lunenburg man, owner of the dog and the registered owner of the vehicle, was later located nearby… Charges are pending.”
It’s not just dogs that die this way. Two Canadian toddlers died after being left in hot cars in July. Maclean’s recently spoke with Jodie Edwards, a college professor at a small Ohio university whose 11-month-old daughter Jenna was accidentally left in a hot vehicle. It’s a heartbreaking interview.
“Peeping toms” reported on campuses from coast to coast
Police in Waterloo, Ont. arrested a 31-year-old non-student on Thursday and charged him with voyeurism after he was, “observed using a cell phone to take video of unsuspecting females as they used a staircase on the campus.”
It wasn’t an isolated incident at Waterloo, nor are “peeping toms” rare on Canadian campuses. During the last school year there were at least half-a-dozen media reports of men filming, photographing or otherwise spying on female students from New Brunswick to British Columbia.
Multiple students reported a man lurking in the women’s washroom at Toronto’s York University.
Police in Kamloops, B.C. seek photos, videos
Mounties in Kamloops, B.C., are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a teenager at a bush party attended by as many as 1,000 high school graduates.
Police say the 17-year-old girl became separated from her friends, was approached by a male she didn’t know and was taken into a wooded area where she was sexually assaulted on Tuesday night.
When the teen arrived home from the party, she told her parents what happened and they took her to hospital and called police.
RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said the event strongly resembled other recent sexual assault cases in Canada where witnesses have photographs or videos of the incident and then posted them online.
UBC-O student died after taking pills
The popular birth-control pills Yaz and Yasmin have been linked to the deaths of at least 23 Canadian women —the youngest just age 14, Health Canada documents say.
The deaths are among about 600 adverse reactions reported among women taking the contraceptives between 2007 and Feb. 28 of this year, Health Canada confirmed Tuesday.
Doctors and pharmacists who submitted the reports to the Canada Vigilance Program said Yaz and Yasmin are suspected in the 23 deaths. The reports say most of the women died suddenly after developing blood clots, a known risk with the pills.
Since 2007, Health Canada said the program has received reports of adverse reactions among 333 women taking Yasmin and 267 women prescribed Yaz.
Incidents may be related
RCMP at the University of British Columbia are warning students to be vigilant after two women say they were groped on campus. The latest incident occurred on May 19 at 2:50 a.m. on Wesbrook Mall near Thunderbird Blvd. A 20-year-old says she was grabbed on the buttocks under her skirt.
“The woman said the suspect appeared to be a Middle Eastern-looking man, in his early to mid-20s, with a slim build, 5’8″ tall, dark brush cut hair and a stubble beard with an oval shaped face. He was wearing a gray hooded jacket, dark blue jeans and white runners,” said Sergeant Peter Thiessen of the University RCMP in a statement. He also told The Province the man was “Persian-looking.”
The other incident occurred on April 19 at 10:35 p.m. A 36-year-old says she was walking into a building on Larkin Dr. when a man lifted up her skirt and grabbed her buttocks. That man was described as of unknown race, 5’9″, wearing a dark top, dark pants and dark shoes with white trim.
21-year-old Sydney Taylor falls from balcony
A Canadian tourist has died in the Mexican resort of Cancun.
Local media reports say the 21-year-old, identified as Sydney Taylor, died early Tuesday after apparently falling about 10 metres from the balcony of her second-floor hotel room.
They say the victim was identified by her Canadian roommate.
There was no immediate word on the woman‘s hometown, but a spokesman for Acadia University in Nova Scotia says the victim graduated from the school last month.
In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs confirmed that a Canadian had died in Mexico, but did not provide any details.
It says Canadian consular officials are in contact with local authorities to gather more information and that consular assistance is being provided both in Mexico and to the woman‘s relatives in Canada.
Video interview spreads across social media
A McGill student who was raped has told her story publicly for the first time to TV McGill. The video interview is spreading fast on Facebook and has already been viewed more than 5,000 times.
Sarelle Sheldon says she was out with a couple of friends at a Montreal bar when a guy who she had been “trying to give the cold shoulder” started talking to her. Her friends went upstairs. After that, things got fuzzy. She woke up in the hospital with police, doctors and social workers who said she was raped and found in an alleyway with almost no clothing. She remembers the man from the bar holding her against a wall. She remembers scratching him. That was only the beginning of the pain. She alleges that the police didn’t take her case seriously enough. The rapist wasn’t caught.
Sheldon says McGill refunded her courses and a university counsellor helped her work through the trauma. “It’s not something you can handle on your own and you may not be comfortable speaking with your friends and family,” she advises, “but you need to get it out.” Watch Breaking the Silence.
(Video credit: Cedric Yarish, Spencer Macnaughton)
Analyzing the many reports of sexual assaults on campus
I’ve covered student news for two years now. Time and again, I’ve seen headlines that looked like this one from yesterday’s Toronto Star: Police investigate alleged sex assault at York University.
It’s less common to see headlines referring to sexual assaults at other schools, so it’s easy to assume York has a worse sexual assault problem.
But this conclusion is probably wrong.
Five things students are talking about today (February 20th)
1. Elisa Lam, a University of British Columbia student reported missing Jan. 31st, has been found dead inside a water tank atop a Los Angeles skid row hotel. A hotel worker discovered the body while investigating complaints of low water pressure, reports to The Canadian Press. Guests told reporters gathered outside that they were disgusted by the idea they were possibly drinking water from the tank, reports CBC News. Lam, who was vacationing alone in California, was last seen on Jan. 31st in the hotel elevator. There were reports she was acting strangely.
2. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ list of ways to deter a sexual assault includes the following tips: “Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating,” and “Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” The list was widely criticized by conservative and liberals pundits alike (finally—they agree!) on Twitter before the university took it down. The university says the list, which was first published in 2006 and provided to women who took a self-defense class, was taken out of context.
Blaze may have started on porch
This story was updated Feb. 17 at noon EST.
Horrified neighbours watched helplessly as a house fire in Victoria claimed the lives of three young adults early Saturday.
Fire Capt. Bob Jones said flames were shooting out from the back and front of the house and two vehicles in the driveway were ablaze when firefighters arrived at about 4:30 a.m.
“The house is only, literally, 50 feet away from the back of the fire hall,” Jones said.
“It really got going quickly and it was windy, and that really helped spread the fire throughout the house.”
The victims were a young man and two young women, Jones said, adding it’s believed they were all students who rented the house. The victims names have not yet been released.
Jones said there was a party at the house on Friday night and that several out-of-town guests were staying there.
“Our evacuee assistance program has relocated some of them from out of town and put them up in accommodation for the night.”
Steve Hicks, who lives next door, said he was among a group of people who stood on the street and watched firefighters carry a body out on a stretcher as the house burned down.
“My upstairs tenant’s son, I think, put in the first call to the fire department. Then my tenant banged on the door and woke me up and we got outside.”
Hicks said most of the people living in the house were in their 20s.
“There’s no official word, but the fire appears to have started on the side porch at the front of the house. It’s covered and they have a couple of couches there, where people would sit around and smoke.”
Hicks said he was watching firefighters investigating near the porch on Saturday afternoon as he tried to process what he’d witnessed just hours earlier.
“When you’re out there at four in the morning and there’s a blaze going you can’t really process it. It takes a few hours. I’m not feeling too good right now. When you know that people lost their lives right there you don’t think it’ll shake you up that much, but I think it has.”