After numerous online posts about sexual assault and possible drugs during the first week of school at Western University, an orientation leader shares his first-hand account of what happened.
Over the weekend, there were a number of social media reports that 30 or more students may have been stunned and / or assaulted in Medway-Sydenham Hall.
Following the reports, Katrina Desjardins, a fourth-year faculty of information and media studies students, identified herself as an orientation volunteer and soph — a senior undergraduate tasked with helping and mentoring new students — a series of tweets and also an official statement on, what she experienced over the weekend and the week up.
“It was before midnight on Friday when we saw people start falling like flies,” Desjardins wrote.
“Before midnight, when we saw ambulances rushing to three separate girls within a radius of less than 100 m.”
Desjardins wrote that rumors that people had been doped began to circulate immediately, and other sophs reported this early.
Previously, sophs lived with students at the residence along with floor supervisor or dons, but due to the pandemic and the university trying to secure places for all first-year students, sophs could not live in student housing this year.
“We were not allowed to enter residential buildings because of the covid protocol-I understand that-but even though we asked senior staff and administration to check on people and let us help make sure everyone was safe, we were denied access, “wrote Desjardins.
The province is changing sexual violence by reporting protocols at Ontario colleges, universities
Between midnight and 3 p.m. Friday, Desjardins said she helped in six situations where freshmen were incapacitated and that she heard about “countless other horrific stories” across campus.
In a statement sent to Global News, Desjardins urges the university not to have created “a safe campus that prevents sexual and gender-based violence, shows zero tolerance for perpetrators of violence and provides adequate resources for their students.”
Students call for action in the wake of allegations of sexual violence at Western University
A survey by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), between the 2017-2018 school year, 71 percent of Western college students reported being sexually harassed, while 32 percent reported being sexually assaulted.
In addition to the events that took place over the weekend, three more separate reports of sexual assault involving four female victims (Western students) are being investigated by London Police.
During the briefing and the first week of school, Desjardins also shared other accounts of sexual harassment.
“We were screamed at and physically assaulted by men while trying to help with various crisis situations where freshmen collapsed all over campus.”
Western University, London Police Encourage Survivors to Stand Out in Social Media Reports of Student Assault, Drugs
She criticizes Western policy for reporting sexual assault and gender-based violence, saying “it’s not enough.”
“The party culture in Western has enabled cruel acts of harassment and assault for far too long, and I have heard from several people how complicated and re-traumatic the reporting process is.”
Desjardins said that in addition to implementing a new policy, Westerners need to ensure that current policies are enforced to ensure that all students on campus feel safe.
“I’m sorry about the culture that was created here that made people feel entitled to your body – I’m sorry we could not interfere earlier – I’m sorry the university did not manage to keep you to safety, “wrote Desjardins.
London police and Western University have urged survivors to come forward in the wake of social media reports.
Since the latest update on Tuesday, police have said no one has come forward with a formal complaint in connection with the online charges.
‘We clearly have a cultural problem’: Western University launches action plan amid reports of student assaults
On Thursday, Western University announced the new action plan and plans for a task force on sexual violence and student safety.
“This has been an enormously difficult time for our students and the whole of Western society. We clearly have a cultural problem that we need to solve, ”said President Alan Shepard.
“We failed our students and their families.”
The reports of sexual assault in the first school week sparked outrage from students and society, prompting more students to organize a walkout to address gender-based violence.
Walkout is scheduled to take place Friday at. 12 on US Hill at Western.
Anyone who has experienced sexual or gender-based violence can contact Anova’s Crisis Line 24/7 at 519-642-3000, LAWC 519-432-2204 or the Abused Women’s Helpline at 519-642-3000.
The Ontario government is making changes to how post-secondary institutions investigate sexual assault
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.