To UBC’s Vancouver campus community:
In the week following the third stranger sexual assault on our campus, I am writing to ask all of you to be extra careful and take important safety precautions in light of ongoing RCMP efforts to apprehend the person(s) behind recent violent attacks.
The RCMP have assured us that this is a top priority, they are devoting major resources to the investigation, and have significantly increased security on our campus.
Today we have launched a new Stay Safe web site portal where you can find the latest alerts, emergency contacts and UBC and AMS resources.
I know many have been frightened by these incidents, yet you are also getting on with your work. I am heartened to hear stories of students watching out for each other, rallying to stand up against violence, and voicing a determination not to let these acts define us.
UBC takes this matter extremely seriously. There has been a strong effort to mobilize a coordinated response. We are working with student leaders to identify concerns and respond. Actions to date have included:
- significant escalation of Campus Security patrols
- mass safety alerts
- emergency meetings in student residences
- promotion of resources like AMS Safewalk, which has been extended to 4 a.m. each night, and UBC and AMS counselling services
- making sure lighting is working and as bright as possible
- regular checks to ensure operation of blue phones
- reaching out to nearby pubs/restaurants and those running evening events to ensure patrons receive safety information
- provision of safety whistles
- and more
President Stephen Toope has also asked me to lead a new Safety Working Group. This group will be charged with looking at university best practices in security. This will include a review of recent requests to install more security cameras. We have made the commitment that we would not do so with out consideration of privacy issues and campus consultation.
Finally, members of our community are reminding us to be careful in our response not to “blame the victim.” There is an important discussion to be had around violence against women: what causes it, what enables it, what perpetuates it and what will really defeat it. It is important for this dialogue to continue. But until the attacks stop, we are doing all we can to provide information so you can make choices to ensure your safety.
Please let me know what we can do better. And join those of us who, like me, are determined to not let these events change the best of who we are.