Western University is investigating multiple reports of sexual violence that are alleged to have happened over the weekend in London, Ont., as orientation week wound down.
“We have taken some immediate steps to ensure student safety, including an increased presence of special constables on campus and an increased presence of staff and security in the residences,” Chris Alleyne, one of Western’s vice-presidents, said in a statement.
“I want to be very clear: sexual violence will not be tolerated. Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of our campus community. As part of Western’s policy on gender-based and sexual violence, we assess and act immediately on any reports of sexual violence.”
Many reports about the alleged violence are on social media, but CBC News has not been able to verify the reports.
The university is trying to speak directly to students in residence and encouraging people to come forward with any information they might have.
The Western Gazette, the student newspaper, reported the sexual violence involved students living in Medway-Sydenham Hall.
As of Sunday afternoon, London police were not involved in the investigation, a police spokesperson said.
As of Sunday night, there had been no formal report or complaint under its gender-based and sexual violence policy, Alleyne said.
Students given training
The school’s policy states anyone who commits an act of gender-based or sexual violence “will be held accountable in a manner that recognizes the dignity and needs of the survivor, the health and safety of members of the university community and the educational mission of the university.”
Students can file an official complaint or request support after disclosing sexual violence, the policy states.
First-year students were given “extensive sexual violence education and prevention programming” during orientation week.
Residence staff and Sophs — upper-year students who help lead orientation week activities — were trained on the sexual violence policy and procedures for students who disclose an incident.
“Gender-based and sexual violence is part of a broader societal issue — of which universities are a part — and Western’s commitment to combatting it requires immediate and collective action from across our campus community,” Alleyne said.