Police at the University of British Columbia are advising the public of a violent assault on campus last night that could be related to recent reports of a campus prowler.

Around 10 p.m. PT Friday, University RCMP say a 20-year-old student was walking alone along Wesbrook Mall when she was approached from behind by an unknown man who emerged from a wooded area.

Police say the man violently shook her and forced the woman to the ground face first. He then rubbed his midsection against the woman's back in what RCMP describe as a sexual manner. 

The woman managed to fight the man off and he fled. She suffered minor bruising to the side of her head. 

Police describe the suspect as dark-skinned, about 5 feet,10 inches tall, with a slender build in his mid to late 20s. He was wearing dark clothing and smelled of tobacco.

RCMP Sgt. Drew Grainger said Friday's incident may be related to other reports of a late-night campus prowler, who has been spotted lurking in the female shower and residences since March 23.

Grainger says descriptions in those incidents match that of Friday night's suspect.

Police beef up patrols

Grainger said police have added extra resources to investigate the assault and prowler, and have increased patrols to "prevent further acts from happening."

He added, "It's the number one priority for the UBC RCMP right now.

"We're taking this very, very, very, seriously and using every available resource to us right now to try and solve this problem."

On Saturday, UBC issued a campus safety alert, which repeated the RCMP warning and which outlined safety measures available to students and staff. 

Grainger said police don't know if the suspected prowler is a student, nor how he gained access to the residences.

"They are secured areas," he said. "There is restricted access to these buildings, but you have to recognize that these are very busy areas where people are coming and going all the time, and maybe are neglectful to think about locking the door behind them or letting people in behind them.

"That's certainly an opportunity for somebody who has ill will to get into some of these buildings.

With files by Stephanie Mercier