After numerous articles online about sexual assault and possible drugs during the first week of school at Western University, a guidance official shares her first-hand account of what happened.
Over the weekend, multiple social media reported that 30 or more students could have been drugged and / or assaulted at Medway-Sydenham Hall.
Following the reporting, Katrina Desjardins, a fourth year student in the Faculty of Information and Media Sciences who identified herself as a guidance volunteer and soph – an undergraduate student tasked with helping and ‘mentoring new students – posted a number of tweets as well as a statement about what she went through over the weekend and the week before.
âIt was before midnight Friday when we saw people start to drop like flies,â Desjardins wrote.
âBefore midnight, we saw ambulances rushing towards three separate girls within a radius of less than 100 meters. “
Desjardins wrote that rumors that people had been drugged began to circulate immediately and soph colleagues reported it early on.
In the past, sophs lived with students in residence, with floor supervisors or donations, but due to the pandemic and the university trying to secure places for all freshmen, sophs were unable to live in a student residence this year.
“We were not allowed to enter the residence buildings due to the covid protocol – I understand that – but even though we begged the superiors and administration to check people and help us make sure everything the world was safe, we were denied access, “Desjardins wrote.
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Between midnight and 3 a.m. on Friday night, Desjardins said she had helped in six situations where first-year students were incapacitated and that she had heard “countless other horrible stories” across the board. campus.
In a statement sent to Global News, Desjardins denounces the university for its failure to “create a safe campus that prevents sexual and gender-based violence, demonstrates zero tolerance towards perpetrators and provides adequate resources to their students.”
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According to a Council of Ontario Universities (COU) survey, between the 2017-2018 school year, 71% of students at Western University reported being sexually harassed, while 32% said they had been sexually assaulted. .
In addition to the events that took place over the weekend, three other separate reports of sexual assault involving four female victims (Western students) are being investigated by London police.
During orientation and the first week of school, Desjardins also shared other testimonies of sexual harassment.
âWe were yelled at and physically assaulted by men while trying to help in various crisis situations involving freshmen collapsing all over campus.â
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She criticizes Western’s policy to report sexual assault and gender-based violence, saying “it’s not enough.”
“The ‘party’ culture at Western has allowed excruciating acts of harassment and assault for too long and I’ve heard from many people how complicated and traumatic the reporting process is again.”
Desjardins said that beyond implementing a new policy, Western must ensure that the policies in place are enforced so that all students on campus feel safe.
“I’m sorry for the culture perpetuated here that makes people feel entitled to have your body – I’m sorry we weren’t able to intervene sooner – I’m sorry the university was unsuccessful to protect you, âDesjardins wrote.
London Police and Western University have encouraged survivors to come forward following the social media reports.
In Tuesday’s last update, police said no one had made a formal complaint about the allegations online.
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On Thursday, Western University released the new action plan and plans for a task force on sexual violence and student safety.
âIt has been an extremely difficult time for our students and the entire Western community. We clearly have a cultural problem that we have to solve, âsaid President Alan Shepard.
âWe have let down our students and their families. “
Reports of sexual assault during the first week of school sparked outrage among students and the community, leading several students to stage a strike to take a stand against gender-based violence.
The walkout is scheduled to take place at 12 noon on Friday at UC Hill at Western.
Anyone who has experienced sexual or gender-based violence can contact the Anova crisis line 24/7 at 519-642-3000, LAWC 519-432-2204 or the helpline for women victims of violence in Canada. 519-642-3000.
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