Middlesex Center, Ont. –
The London Police Department said an investigation was underway after allegations of multiple sexual assaults at a Western University residence began circulating on social media over the weekend.
Rumors have circulated on social media about unconfirmed reports that up to 30 female students have been drugged and sexually assaulted.
A letter was sent to residents of Medway-Sydenham Hall on Saturday from student housing officials, saying the school was following the reports.
Now London police say they are aware of the allegations but have yet to receive any reports over the weekend of incidents at the residence.
But the statement continued: “Given the seriousness of the allegations raised regarding the incidents at Medway-Sydenham Hall, the London Police Service has opened an investigation and we will work with Western University to identify and support any victims and ensure a full investigation is conducted. “
Police officials say they received two reports alleging sexual assault at other locations on campus last week. The two are still under investigation, and police said this will include examining any potential links to unreported incidents.
Chris Alleyne, associate vice president of housing and ancillary services at Western University, released a statement Monday saying they were working to obtain additional information on the alleged sexual assaults.
“We are very troubled by the incidents reported on social media over the past weekend. We are working hard to clarify and confirm these reports. So far we have received very little information relating to these reports, and we are asking anyone with more details to report to the West or London Police Department. ”
He added that Western has received four formal allegations of sexual violence in the past week, but the cases do not appear to be related.
In these cases, Alleyne says Western immediately took strong action when complaints were filed, including facilitating arrests and firing students who are still under investigation.
“I cannot stress enough that sexual violence will never be tolerated at Western. We will continue to take action on every disclosure and complaint.”
The school has increased guest enrollment, security and counseling, and there are a number of resources available for any student in need of support due to sexual violence.
Students on edge
The officially reported assaults, rumors of potentially dozens more, and the slow response have worried students.
Alexa Decassan, a first year political science student, lives in the Medway Residence and says there is a lot of fear.
“It’s very disturbing that this is my first year here, it hasn’t even been a week and it’s happening already. And what I heard was Western said they were going to tighten their security. To my extent I didn’t really see much of that, and it’s very uncomfortable, like sleeping. As a lot of the girls on my floor were pretty scared, to be honest. “
And other students are also dissatisfied with the university’s response to the allegations.
Daniel Oyefugea is a freshman at Western who lives in the Sydenham Residence and says women get mixed messages about coming forward.
“That’s part of the problem. First, is that we don’t have enough women who come forward, then when they do come forward, it doesn’t happen… you’re going to have future women who don’t. . want to go out because of things like that. “
West Associate Law Professor Jacob Shelley said bringing so many people together during the pandemic has facilitated a toxic environment.
“It’s kind of a predictable storm and we’ve seen it happen on campuses across this country throwing giant parties. Mix that kind of energy, with alcohol, drugs, unfortunately the reality is that bad things can happen and for far too long we do not respond immediately or react strongly enough to gender-based violence. “
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