By Chris Adams
University of Calgary Campus Security were called at 1:00 a.m. on Jan. 10 after a female student was allegedly sexually assaulted in Science B after leaving the Den.
“We had an incident of sexual assault reported to us Jan. 10 and we called Calgary city police to come attend and investigate,” said Campus Security director Lanny Fritz.
This is the first case of its kind reported on campus this year. Two sexual assaults were reported last year.
“Sexual assaults reported on campus are extremely rare. Last year, we had two confirmed cases of sexual assault. Those were in the category of inappropriate touching,” Fritz said. “Nothing as serious as the incident that was reported January 10.”
An email sent to U of C students and staff following the incident described the perpetrator as a caucasian male with brown hair and a medium to large build. The security alert also claimed the perpetrator offered to help the victim find her friends before the attack.
Fritz said measures should still be taken to prevent future assaults. He recommended keeping track of your friends to minimize risk.
“There’s always safety in numbers. If they are out with their friends and people are aware of their surroundings and keep an eye on each other, that makes it much safer to meet total strangers by themselves,” Fritz said. “So it would be much better to attend these particular functions with friends.”
According to Emily Leedham, vice-president external of the Consent Awareness and Education Club, only one in 10 cases of sexual assault are reported to police. She said this is because stigma is often placed on the victim rather than the perpetrator.
“I think because of the conception around sexual assault, people blame the victim. They ask, what was she wearing? Was she drinking? What were the victim’s actions that landed them in that particular situation?” Leedham said. “I think when a situation like this happens, victims are scared to talk about it because they don’t know if they will be blamed for their own assault.”
According to the CBC, the victim did not file a police report.
CASE president Ellen Bolger said that the reporting of sexual assaults does not always lead to justice and that dialogue surrounding sexual assault needs to change.
“The email that was sent out afterwards encouraging people to watch out for their personal safety kind of puts the onus on potential victims to prevent their own assaults,” Bolger said. “Instead, there should be more focus on educating people about what consent is and what sexual assault is so people don’t commit this crime in the first place.”
CASE offers information on sexual assault prevention and consent awareness. Students can contact the Calgary Police Service with any information regarding last week’s incident.