British Columbia

UBC warns students after man attempts to break into residence lounge

The University of British Columbia has sent a warning email to students who live on campus after a man attempted to break in to a residence lounge where a female resident was studying.

School says woman was studying in the room at the time

UBC says it has sent a warning to its campus community after a man attempted to break into a residence lounge in the Marine Drive Building 5 on Friday April, 1, 2016 around 2 a.m. PT. (UBC)

The University of British Columbia has sent a warning email to students who live on campus after a man attempted to break in to a residence lounge where a female resident was studying.

The incident happened Friday at 2 a.m. outside the Marine Drive Building 5 lounge, where a male was seen pressing himself against the exterior window.

The man tried to enter the building but was unsuccessful, and the resident fled, said managing director of student housing and hospitality services Andrew Parr.

"She looked up from her studies, saw this individual doing what he was doing, quickly packed up and left," he said in a phone interview Saturday.

RCMP and campus security were called and arrived quickly, but were unable to apprehend the man. The resident wasn't able to provide a strong description of the suspect, Parr said.

"I think she was more focused on her own safety and obviously was a bit traumatized by the situation, and wanted to leave the area as quickly as possible."

'Night prowler events'

It's unclear whether the incident is connected to a recent series of "night prowler events" where a man was seen lurking in bathrooms and bedrooms at UBC residences, Parr said.

Police have said the night prowler incidents may be connected to the sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman on campus last week.

The woman was walking alone when a man suddenly came out of a wooded area and grabbed her, violently shaking her with both arms and forcing her to the ground.

Following the attempted break-in early Friday morning, the university felt it important to send a warning email on Friday to the 9,500 students who live in campus residences, said Parr.

Safety precautions

The email was customized for different residences and reminded students to lock doors and accessible windows and to follow the procedure for reporting suspicious activity.

It also advised students to use new security measures including the UBC Blue Phone network that connects directly with campus security.

Parr said these types of incidents were occurring at a frequency that was "completely unacceptable and frustrating to UBC."

"This kind of activity, we in the community and students shouldn't have to live with in today's society," he said.

"We are doing everything that we can, and are working with the RCMP, to ensure that this individual or these individuals are caught and, from my perspective, appropriately punished."

The university's RCMP detachment did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Criticism of UBC

UBC has faced criticism for its handling of alleged sexual assaults on campus and has begun work on a new sexual assault policy, with a draft expected to be ready in June.

A former UBC student recently filed a human rights complaint alleging the school discriminated against her and other complainants in its handling of reports of sexual assault and harassment.

Glynnis Kirchmeier said the university failed to act on complaints about a male PhD student over long periods of time, resulting in additional women becoming victims of sexual violence.