A University of Victoria student has been arrested Monday following allegations of sexual assault from four female students.
The allegations were made public along with the recommendation of charges from the Saanich Police Department. Saanich PD say they were approached two weeks ago by the four students, all of whom knew the perpetrator “very well.”
In a statement published late on Monday evening, UVic confirmed that the students had reported the assailant to Campus Security in mid-February. The university then contacted Saanich Police, and with help offered through Counselling and Health Services, a report was filed by the four students against the perpetrator.
Sgt. Jereme Leslie of Saanich PD said the attacks had taken place over a span of several months. He complimented the students who had reported the student.
“All of these women are very brave and they’ve come forward and shown a lot of courage,” he said.
The arrested student has since been released and will appear in court in early April. The university confirmed he will not be allowed back on campus.
This is the third high-profile sexual assault involving UVic students this academic year. Just a month ago, two international students were sexually assaulted by a man in their own home, and a student was attacked in a campus parking lot last September.
Kenya Rogers, UVSS Director of External Relations, believes this incident reaffirms a need for a sexualized violence policy at UVic.
“There have to be policies in place . . . policy that is informed by community, because this is going to continue to happen,” Rogers says. “I think . . . this institution and institutions across B.C. need frameworks for how they deal with sexual assault on campus.”
There are four university services students can access if they have experienced sexualized violence
— Health Services, Counselling Services, Student Affairs, and Campus Security —but there is no framework within UVic’s administration that allows for a service dealing exclusively with these kinds of incidents as they occur (with the exception of the Anti-Violence project, who, as an advocacy group, are not affiliated with the university).
The university previously collaborated with the UVSS and the Anti-Violence Project in the fall of 2015 with the Let’s Get Consensual campaign, and is also looking to start a Behaviour Intervention Program designed to give students the tools to intervene in potentially harmful situations. The program will reportedly be aimed at upper-year students and will launch this fall.
Rogers believes that the lack of a specific policy for dealing with sexualized violence means the independent cases become a “mess.”
“Judicial Affairs, for example, [are] doing the best they can within the framework [they’ve been given],” she says, “[but] sexualized violence is such a unique issue within and of itself [that] it deserves to have its own policy.”
When reached for comment, Jim Dunsdon, the associate vice-president of Student Affairs, said that any leadership from the province would be “wonderful.”
If you need support on campus, the Anti-Violence Project is located in SUB B027 and can be reached by phone at 250-472-4388.
If you need help immediately in the community, you can contact the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232, the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433, and UVic Campus Security at 250-721-7599.