UFASTA response to campus safety issues around recent sexual assaults

March 11, 2015 Jodine Perkins Safety

UFASTA recently submitted the following letter to President Gupta on 27 February, 2015 in order to raise our concerns about how the recent assault on campus was communicated.   Attached to this post is the letter, which outlines our concerns and makes three suggestions for action.

Dear President Gupta,

As both faculty and staff at UBC and residents on campus, we would like to register our concern about the recent sexual assault that occurred on Feb. 22, 2015 in the South Campus area. This was yet another incident of sexual assault occurring on campus—at a relatively early time of night, only 10 PM—in an area that is well-­‐populated with faculty, staff, and students and should be safe. When we discussed this incident at our Executive Meeting last night, we discovered that the incident was poorly and unevenly reported: some faculty members were informed by their Department Heads, but some were not; staff seemed to be informed through word of mouth, some students were informed through Residence Advisors, but students not living on campus heard only through word of mouth, if it all. We feel that this type of uneven reporting is unacceptable.

This is the 7th incident of sexual assault on campus in the past year. At this point, we feel that UBC much act seriously to help protect its female members. At the very least, this should include the following:

  • Full and immediate disclosure of any sexual assaults in a timely manner (through broadcast email) so that women can protect themselves and be on All students, faculty, and staff—including those living on and off campus—should be informed at the same time and ASAP with regard to any such incident.
  • Mandatory workshops for all first year incoming students, discussing the importance of consent to sexual To our knowledge, these types of workshops are voluntary at UBC and are attended almost entirely by women. This is something that could easily be incorporated into the Imagine Day orientations and could be carried out in a sensitive and effective manner.
  • Better security measures on campus (!), including lighting in all construction sites and emergency phones in public All sites that have been places of attack must be equipped with better security and posted notice of this enhanced security. Otherwise,we are at risk of repeated incidents.

At this point we do not feel that UBC is doing a sufficient job to protect its female community members. We want to see a serious commitment towards protection from UBC. UBC has a responsibility to provide students, faculty, and staff with the safest possible environment within which to learn, teach, work and live. Anything less is irresponsible.

We look forward to a serious and swift response to these issues, and we ask that you keep the entire UBC community informed as to the university’s future actions with regard to this problem.

With gratitude, Tara Ivanochko

President, University Faculty and Staff Tenants Association (UFASTA)

cc: Lisa Castle, VP Human Resources; Barry Eccleton, Director Campus Security; Aaron Loehrlein, UFASTA secretary

 

We received the following response from Barry Eccleton,
Director, Campus Security:

I am writing in response to your letter dated February 27 in which you outlined your concerns about safety for students, faculty, staff and residents at UBC. As the Chair of the Campus Safety Working Group and Director of Campus Security, I share your concerns.

The Campus Safety Working Group, in its Final Report, outlines both our findings in terms of campus safety and our recommendations in the short and long term. The changes you have asked us to respond to including information sharing, education, and lighting in construction areas, will be discussed by the working group, and build on key actions that we are taking.
Campus Security is committed to transparent sharing of all reported incidents of sexual assault. The most recent reported assault, while not sexual in nature, was deeply concerning; this safety concern was communicated to the campus community through various channels including an email to all Department Heads requesting that the information be shared, as well as through social media, digital signage, and other means.  We do believe that we can strengthen the current communication plan and we are working on a communication plan to further close the gaps in our current approach.

As you have identified, education and awareness is a key piece to the culture shift at UBC with regards to consent. The approach towards building awareness is to integrate this education in orientation and transition programming and then ongoing throughout the year for all students: from a pre-arrival module for first year students to in-depth programming during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and integration of messaging about healthy relationships and consent with all of our wellbeing communications, the approach will be multi-faceted to match the complex nature of the topic. In addition, the 2014-15 pilot for student training for all Orientation, Peer Programs, Residence Life and Undergraduate Society leaders on creating respectful and inclusive communities will be further developed for 2015-16 and will continue to include Bystander Intervention training as a core component.  We can continue to build on this kind of educational communication and campaigns, with the engagement of m
any community partners at UBC.

Given the responsibility for safety and security in the neighbourhoods falls outside of the services that campus security provides, the following additional information has been provided on behalf of the University Neighbourhood Association.  Supporting the promotion and development of healthy and safe neighbourhoods is something the University Neighbourhoods Association (UNA) is committed to.  The UNA together with UBC and RCMP supports a community-based policing program that focuses on the delivery of crime prevention strategies and community engagement initiatives to address local crime and safety concerns in both the academic and neighbourhood areas.  Initiatives include foot and cycling patrols across neighbourhood areas. The UNA also encourages its community members to share issues and concerns around safety with the RCMP, and the UNA Board of Directors and staff.

Thank you for your interest in campus safety.

Sincerely,

Barry

Barry Eccleton
Director | Campus Security
University of British Columbia | Vancouver
2133 East Mall | Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4
Phone 604-822-5865 | Fax 604-822-3541
barry.eccleton@ubc.ca: www.security.ubc.ca


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