Western University is investigating multiple reports of sexual violence which are alleged to have happened this weekend, as orientation week wound down.
“We have taken some immediate steps to ensure student safety, including an increased presence of special constables on campus and an increased presence of staff and security in the residences,” said Chris Alleyne, one of Western’s vice-presidents, in a statement.
“I want to be very clear: sexual violence will not be tolerated. Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of our campus community. As part of Western’s policy on gender-based and sexual violence, we assess and act immediately on any reports of sexual violence.”
There are many reports about the violence on social media, but CBC News has not been able to verify those reports.
The university is trying to speak directly to students in residence and encouraging people to come forward with any information they might have.
The Western Gazette, the university’s student newspaper, reported that the sexual violence involved students living in Medway-Sydenham Hall.
As of Sunday afternoon, London police was not involved in the investigation, a police spokesperson said.
As of Sunday night, there had been no formal report or complaint under its gender-based and sexual violence policy, Alleyne said.
Students given training
The policy states that anyone who commits an act of gender-based or sexual violence “will be held accountable in a manner that recognizes the dignity and needs of the survivor, the health and safety of members of the university community and the educational mission of the university.”
Students can file an official complaint or request support after disclosing sexual violence, the policy states.
First-year students were given “extensive sexual violence education and prevention programming” during orientation week, and residents staff as well as Sophs — upper-year students who help lead orientation week activities — were trained on the sexual violence policy and procedures for students who disclose an incident.
“Gender-based and sexual violence is part of a broader societal issue — of which universities are a part — and Western’s commitment to combating it requires immediate and collective action from across our campus community,” Alleyne said.