Western University students, reeling from allegations of sexual assault on campus and the beating death of a freshman, are demanding that the school offer them better protection.
On Tuesday, a petition that was launched on change.org it was distributed by students asking the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities to conduct a “full formal investigation of Western University.”
Students at the post-secondary institution in London, Ontario, also took to social media to promote a student-led strike that is being organized for Friday.
“I am with our survivors and my students. I listen to you, I believe you and I support you, ”he tweeted. Lauryn Bikos, a Third-year student and Orientation Week leader who has openly expressed how she and other students have been moved by the alleged incidents.
Western was rocked by allegations of sexual violence that emerged during Orientation Week, which began on September 6 and ended on Sunday.
The reports first emerged in social media posts, where it was alleged that female students were drugged and sexually assaulted at the Medway-Sydenham Hall residence in the final days of orientation.
The same weekend, 18-year-old freshman Gabriel Neil was violently assaulted and suffered life-threatening injuries. He died in the hospital Sunday night. Police arrested Aliyan Ahmed, 21, on charges of murder.
The troubling start to the school year at Western has made national headlines and on Tuesday Ontario Prime Minister Doug Ford tweeted his anger over the alleged incidents of sexual violence.
“As the father of four young women, I am beyond disgusted to hear the sexual assault allegations that took place at Western University last week. All victims of sexual violence deserve justice. All students should feel safe on campus, ”Ford wrote.
In letters to the school community, Western University President Alan Shepard made it clear that “sexual violence will never be tolerated on our campus.”
He called the social media reports “very disturbing” and said “Western is working around the clock to collect the facts and act on them.”
Given the seriousness of those allegations, he said the London Police Service has opened an investigation and the university will work closely with them.
So far, he noted, Western and police “have received very little information related to the social media reports” and are calling for people with information to come forward.
Unconnected to reports on social media, Western has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students in the past week; the cases don’t seem to be connected. Shepard said “swift and energetic measures” have been taken in these cases, including facilitating the arrest and expulsion of the students from the residence while investigations are underway.
The university says it has increased security at its residences and has confidential on-site counseling and professionals specializing in gender-based violence and survivor support available to students.
Still, some students demand more action. Those who organized Friday’s strike have posted, “Due to recent events, we decided that we had to take action.
“We do not support the violence that occurs on our campus. Let’s come together peacefully as a community to support our survivors. “
More to come