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UBC issues warning as sex assaults continue on campus

Quinn Runkle, middle, leads prospective students and parents on a tour of the grounds of the University of British Columbia.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Students, faculty and employees at the University of British Columbia have been warned not to walk alone at night after a third assault in as many weeks on campus.

Along with electronic advisories, the university has set up meetings between student advisers and students who live in residence to talk about the issue.

"There have been concerted efforts to reach out to students living in residence," Louise Cowin, UBC's vice-president for students, said on Sunday.

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At emergency floor meetings, "there was very direct messaging from residence advisers to bring to [students'] attention that this was the third assault that had happened. … Before, the messaging had been very advisory in nature, where this was very explicit – 'do not walk alone, and get out your cellphone and put these numbers in it.'"

Those recommended numbers include that of a safe-walk program that provides escorted walks for students between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The stepped-up security measures follow a string of assaults on campus, including the most recent, which took place just after midnight on Saturday.

Police say a 17-year-old woman was walking alone on the campus, in the 2500-block of West Mall, when she was attacked by a man who rushed out of a wooded area and tried to drag her into the trees.

The woman, who was punched in the face as she struggled with the man, managed to break free and scream for help.

The attack was similar to two other recent assaults in which women walking on their own on campus were attacked in early morning hours.

RCMP have said they believe the same man could be involved in all of the cases and have described the assaults as the top priority for the RCMP's UBC detachment.

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About 37,000 undergraduate students and some 10,000 graduate students attend UBC's Vancouver campus. About 400 hectares in size, the campus is on a tip of land that is ringed by forests on three sides and the Strait of Georgia on the other.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Wendy Stueck has covered technology and business and now reports on British Columbia issues including natural resources, aboriginal issues and urban affairs. More

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