RCMP at UBC are reporting another sexual assault on campus.
At 10:00pm last night, a 20-year-old female UBC student was walking near the 3200-block of Wesbrook Mall.
A man allegedly emerged from a wooded area, grabbed her, and forced her to the ground violently and proceeded to rub his body against her.
The woman was able to fight off the attacker and call 911 but suffered some bruising to the side of the head where he hit her.
The unknown male suspect fled, and is described as darker skinned, mid- to late-20s, approximately 5’10” with a slender build, and was wearing dark clothing, possibly a dark coloured hoodie and smelled of tobacco.
RCMP say the incident could be related to a series of late night prowler events – up to five – that have been reported since Wednesday.
“We’re just making a correlation between some prowler incidents we’ve had,” says Sergeant Drew Grainger. “Some female students on residence over the last couple of nights described a man who is almost identical to the one in the incident last night. He was seen on some of the private areas of the dormitories here on campus.”
Since March 23 there have been as many as five incidents where a man was reported lurking in the shower and residential rooms in Vanier Place and Totem Park.
It’s a location typically home to first-year UBC students.
In all five incidents, the suspect fled.
“This man was described to be in some of the sleeping areas, the washroom and shower areas in some of these female dormitories.”
Grainger says RCMP are asking the public to be careful.
“From a police perspective, be vigilant of your surroundings if you’re walking around campus at night. If you’re in your student residence be aware that people can access your dormitory that aren’t supposed to be there. Lock your doors when you’re asleep at night.”
Back in 2013, the campus was victimized in a string of sexual assaults – with three in as many weeks at one point – prompting the university to increase patrols in the area.
The incidents even prompted one of the sex assault survivors to pen a firsthand account of her experience to the UBC student newspaper.
Women’s group calls for more security following attack
Although RCMP are asking female students to be vigilant, Hilla Kerner of Vancouver Rape Relief says the burden shouldn’t be on students for their safety.
“But really it is the responsibility of the police to dramatically increase security at this moment, to make sure there is significant lighting all over the campus, and to make sure there is police presence these days and these evenings to make sure women are safe.”
Kerner says attacks like this makes women fearful of being in public spaces.
“When it happens in university, we do view it as an attack on women who try to advance themselves through education. So, when we have attacks like this, it’s not just an attack on the individual but a scaring message for all women on campus.”
Kerner encourages any women who feel unsafe or worried about safety to call the Vancouver Rape Relief’s 24-hour crisis line.