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South Assault Probe Ongoing

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

As previously reported by Thecannon.ca and several local news outlets, in the early hours of Saturday September 23 there was an assault incident in South Residence. The attacker, an unidentified, 19-year-old male who is not a student at U of G, assaulted three female South residents. Campus Police were promptly called to the scene, where they apprehended the individual and charged him with three counts of assault. The attacks were in no way sexual in nature.

Further details about the case are starting to emerge. The attacker was let in as a guest by another resident of South, who may now be dealt with serious consequences for their actions. Irene Thompson, Associate Director of Residence Life and Family Housing for Student Housing Services, said in an e-mail interview that “our Community Living Standards [RCLS] and residence contract require hosts to be actively responsible for the behaviour of their guests at all times.” Similarly, Brenda Whiteside, Associate Vice-President for Student Affairs, points out that, “under Student Rights and Responsibilities, students are accountable for the behaviour of visitors and can be charged for this behaviour.”

As part of the ongoing probe into the incident, the Campus Police investigating officer will be speaking to this “host” student, who may be facing stiff penalties both from Housing Services and under general University regulations if he or she is found to have violated the terms of the RCLS, his or her housing contract, or Students Rights and Responsibilities as described in the appropriate academic calendar.

In the meantime, Housing Services has been doing their best to attend to the three victims of the assault. According to Thompson, “the on-call RAs [residence assistant] and the local RA provided support to the victims throughout the weekend and continue to do so.” Residence Life has offered further support to the students, liasing with the relevant on-campus resources, and going as far as offering the students to relocate to another residence hall if they so desire.

Robin Begin, Director of Campus Community Police, believes that “this appears to be an isolated incident” in what is otherwise “a very safe campus.” However, the Office of Student Affairs is discussing visitor policies in residence, alcohol awareness programs and procedures for disruptive behaviour of visitors to residences as part of their debriefing on the incident. For their part Housing Services is conducting safety and awareness campaigns, and has entered further discussion both with Campus Police and with Interhall Council. While potential new measures come into effect, Thompson advises students not to prop doors open, to keep strangers out of the residences and report them if necessary, and to be responsible for their guests.

The attacker has been since released, but Whiteside added that “[under] the terms of condition of his release he is not allowed on the Guelph campus or to have contact with the individuals [involved].” All sources warn that the investigation is not yet complete, and neither Whiteside nor Begin ruled out the possible pressing of further charges in relation with the attack. Whiteside emphasized that “[the attacker] is not a student so avenues such as judicial are applicable.”

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