New Brunswick universities report 12 sexual violence cases

CBC News has learned that New Brunswick’s four public universities reported a dozen incidents of sexual violence between September and December, 2015.

University of New Brunswick had 9 reported cases of sexual violence last term, CBC News has learned

A dozen incidents of sexual violence were reported to New Brunswick's major universities during last semester. 2:09

New Brunswick's four public universities reported a dozen incidents of sexual violence during last semester, CBC News has learned. 

The University of New Brunswick had nine reports of sexual violence, all coming from its Fredericton campus, between Sept. 1 and Dec. 9, 2015, according to documents released under the Right to Information Act.

St. Thomas University received two reports, Mount Allison University had a single report and the University of Moncton did not have any reports during that time period. 

Katie Davey, the president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, said she doesn't believe the information released by the universities captures the full picture of sexual violence on campus.

"One is too many, and nine is very discouraging," Davey said. 

"We need to realize that sexual assaults are really dramatically under-reported."

Katie Davey, the president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, said nine reported cases of sexual assault on campus is "discouraging." (CBC)
No one from the University of New Brunswick's administration would talk about the reports of sexual violence at the province's largest public university.

Sonya Gilks, a UNB spokesperson, provided an email response about the university's record on sexual assaults.

"The issue of sexual violence on and off campus is of great concern to UNB and we're deeply committed to providing students, faculty and staff with a safe, supportive and respectful environment in which to learn, work and interact with others," according to the university's written statement.

"As New Brunswick's largest university, it is not surprising that we have more students reporting sexual assaults than smaller campuses in the province."

No standard reporting system

In the statement, she raised the question of whether having a higher number of reported sexual assaults means more are happening at UNB or more are now being reported.

The Association of Atlantic Universities has said it would work on creating standards for reporting sexual violence that would be used by all universities. (CBC)
The UNB spokesperson said that not all universities have the same reporting system.

The Association of Atlantic Universities stated last March that it would work on creating standards for reporting sexual violence

In a previous investigation, CBC News learned UNB had 11 reports of sexual violence for a span of five years.

Meanwhile, St. Thomas University had six reported cases, Mount Allison University had 14 and the University of Moncton had no reported cases of sexual assault  during that time period.  

St. Thomas University implemented a dedicated sexual assault policy, along with a revamped student code of conduct policy last fall to deal with reports of sexual violence.

UNB has said its dedicated policy will be ready later in 2016.

Both Davey and Gilks state that a draft of the policy has been completed. 

Sex assault numbers requested

Last December, CBC News requested the number of sexual assaults reported to each New Brunswick university.

New Brunswick’s three public universities reported a dozen incidents of sexual violence during last semester, according to statistics obtained by CBC News. (CBC)
Three of the universities replied, but UNB requested a Right to Information request be filed to obtain that information.

CBC News then filed RTI requests with all four schools. In a statement from UNB, spokesperson Sonya Gilks wrote the reason for requiring an RTI request was "to ensure consistency and accuracy in the numbers we report." 

Within the RTI documents UNB states that two of the sexual violence incidents were reported by campus security.

Five incidents were reported by Residence Life. UNB Residence Life also reported two sexual assaults occurred before the requested reporting period, but the reports were filed during that time period. 

Lorraine Whalley, the executive director of the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, said universities should be prepared to disclose the information to the public.

"We're always of the mind that there are stories behind those numbers. So that's what we'd also like to focus on, that ensuring that there are responses in place to support those people coming forward." 

"No matter the numbers, these are people." 

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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