At This Moment it Sucks to be a UBC Student

I am haphazardly putting this blog post together in response to the multiple sexual assaults happening on the UBC campus this weekend and over the past few weeks. To be short, I am feeling ashamed right now to be a member of a campus community that is doing so little to help stop these incidents from repeating. Let me explain.

Photo: Carter Brundage

Photo: Carter Brundage

Sexual assaults happen on university campuses all over the world. Unfortunately, they are an inevitable crime. But not in my  4 years at UBC have I experienced this kind of string of assaults. Young girls are being dragged into bushes in the middle of the night while walking alone. At least 3, now today a fourth, have become public knowledge.

A Ubyssey article today made an interesting comparison between the University’s response to the Sauder School rape chants and these ongoing assaults. Summed up, the response to rape chants quickly resulted in press conferences and a “Systemic Response to Rape and Sexual Assault” , while the response to these later sexual assaults consisted of a warning to women to not walk alone at night.

Granted, it is generally a good idea not to walk alone at night on campus, especially when there is a known attacker in the midst, but that is not all that can be done to stop these attacks. For one, the “Blue Phones” on campus, used as an emergency phone system in case of an assault, need to be maintained and less sparse. Several people on Twitter have been commenting on how many around campus display “out-of-order” signs. When tension is running high on campus, expedient effort could be used to put these phones back in working order.

Secondly, it is not helpful to tell students to be more “vigilant” or “careful”. As a woman, I am constantly told to not walk alone at night. This has instilled an inherent fear in me of walking in the dark alone. I live in the close vicinity of forests and parks and often have to pass through them coming home at night to get from the bus stop to my house. The five-minute walk always has me on high alert, and to be honest I have often thought about what I might do if someone jumps out at me. But this is a rare case. Many young women, especially those new to campus, expect to come to a safe place. They expect that the RCMP and Campus Security will be protecting them at all costs. I should not have to have a friend walk me to my car in the parkade after dark. That should not be necessary.

What frustrates me the most is the blatant and uneducated victim blaming that is occurring all over social media at the moment. One tweet I came across went as such: “I can’t even with the stupidity of these people. It’s 3am, you’re walking around alone. You’re just asking for it.” Another: “R U SRS, I THOUGHT PEOPLE HERE WERE SMART.” Because someone walks alone at night does not mean they are asking to be assaulted. Those people are also not dumb. Not as dumb as this commentator at least. Statements such as those basically support the attacker and reinforce an archaic societal belief that the assailant is not at fault if the opportunity to assault is presented to them. Surprise! Men are not dogs. They can control themselves when something appealing is put in front of them. At least most of them can. Telling women to smarten up and be more careful at night will not fix this problem.

I have not personally seen any increase in security on campus since these attacks began to escalate. If ever, now is time to pull out the big guns, UBC.

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15 responses to “At This Moment it Sucks to be a UBC Student

  1. These were all ‘attempted’ sexual assaults
    Not actual sexual assaults. be accurate, don’t overstate, you just cheapen those who’ve had it happen to them

  2. Well obviously it’s not the girls fault, but her safest bet is to not walk alone at night. Obviously it’s the man’s fault, but is this article or blue emergency poles going to stop him? No. He’s less likely to attack if she’s with someone. How is a blue emergency booth going to save her when she’s alone and pulled into a bush? It would be ideal for a girl to believe that it’s safe to go anywhere at anytime alone, but this world isn’t just unicorns, sunshines, and rainbows. We can’t assume that the world is going to save us.

  3. Your kidding me, everyone should feel safe walking around campus, we live in a very affulent part of vancouver for gods sake. This is not the victims fault, this is not the fault of the male sex in general, one sick individual is most lickly at fault. If the RCMP or campus’s security won’t set up a bait and trap program to deal with this then students should do it themselvs

  4. ^ RA, why do you use feminism like it’s a dirty word? All it means is supporting equal rights for women. Furthermore, there obviously is some victim going on (see Dave’s comment above), and ANY victim blaming at all is too much. I am a residence advisor as well, and yes, we are to some extent responsible for the safety of our residents. This includes their mental health, which isn’t helped by denying that there are people out there – even at UBC – who make the lives of victims even worse by telling them it was ‘their fault’.

  5. What exactly are you proposing? You want more “blue phones” around campus, so victims can make calls after being assaulted? Does that really fix the problem? Increased police presence? This campus is huge. There’s no way every single person on campus can be “protected” for every hour of the night. The reality is the police cannot babysit the UBC population, and if you feel at risk you need to take it upon yourself to be safe. I realize this a traumatizing and very serious problem, but at the end of the day your safety is in your own hands.

  6. uh yeah. you should walk with a friend, your campus should fucking have atleast some “safe walk” program that is on-call. It is partially the student’s fault for not making the right decisions, but of course it is still unacceptable regarding what happened. Moral of the story: dont walk alone, unarmed at 3am.

    • UBC DOES have a SafeWalk program. People just don’t USE it.And Security IS all over around campus at night– I see them when I myself am returning home. Surprise! People aren’t taking the measures available to them, and are preferring instead to blame it all on the negligence of the university and RCMP! My, how novel.

  7. what the fuck are you doing walking home at 3am? I’m 6’1 215. I walk around with a knife in my pocket all day. I’ve done 2 years of muay thai and 1 year of krav maga. I feel confident in beating the shit out of anyone who touches me. I dont walk alone anywhere in the world at 3am. Its fucking retarded and its not victim blaming. Its trying to help yall.

  8. Those who are making such brash statements against the victim are the minority. I am an RA. I am, to an extent, responsible for the safety of my residents. I have not heard one word of blame put on the victim. As campus employees, we are doing our very best to employ *short-term* strategies to maintain safety on campus–and that is encouraging residents to not walk alone in the evenings. If you lived on campus, you would see the amount of campus security cars roaming around after dark, giving out whistles to girls walking across campus. Your post-modern ultra-feminist spewing of “victim-blaming” is not welcome here, especially since the vast majority of UBC students do NOT support the perverted creep(s) who are responsible for these attacks.

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