Feb 19

SFU students say ongoing sexual harassment on campus is being ignored

Female students at Simon Fraser University are fed up with the ongoing sexual harassment many are experiencing on campus.

Burnaby RCMP issued a warning on Wednesday following the sexual assault of a woman in a campus parking lot. The suspect in the attack has not yet been identified, and students are shaken.

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After the story broke, an SFU student contacted Global News to say that students have been reporting sexual harassment cases to campus security over the last several weeks, but their concerns were dismissed.

“A few years ago, Maple Batalia was attacked and killed at SFU and it could have been prevented. Last night’s attack could have been prevented if SFU security took the previous allegations seriously,” the student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.

SFU taking RCMP warning ‘extremely seriously’ after sex assault at Burnaby campus

The school responded to the allegations, saying the sexual assault and the previous harassment reports were unrelated.

That hasn’t stopped students from feeling unsafe on campus. One woman who spoke to Global News says the multiple reports of harassment are lowering her opinion of the school.

“We started hearing stories of [a man] approaching females on the library floor, in the dining hall, in public, just saying he’s a T.A.,” the student said.

An unknown number of female students say they have been sexually harassed by a male student posing as a teaching assistant. Young women have been warning each other by way of social media and word of mouth.

“[He said] that in exchange for sexual favours, he would give exam results and exam answers.”

Neither of the women Global News spoke to have been personally approached by the potential suspect, but know women who have. They say security has been alerted but they’re not confident their concerns are being taken seriously.

“The only response security gave was, ‘You should have just walked away,’” one of the students said.

On Friday afternoon, the university told Global News in a statement that the individual in this case had been identified and prohibited from visiting the campus.

“First off, we are aware of the concerns you raised and I can tell you that the university has been actively managing the situation. Due to privacy concerns for all parties, we can’t get into any specific details. But we can tell you that the university has been taking escalating measures to address the concerns raised about this individual.

“We have imposed a number of measures over the past few weeks and this afternoon, the university prohibited the individual from coming on campus.  We are continuing to monitor the situation.  

“To support our investigation, we are encouraging any women who have directly experienced disruptive or threatening behaviour related to interactions with this individual to contact Safety and Risk Services. Any additional information would assist the university in its response. 

“The safety and security of our students is our primary priority and our guiding principle.”