British Columbia

SFU students frustrated by lack of information on recent sexual assault

A day after Burnaby RCMP announced a recent sexual assault at Simon Fraser University, students are questioning why authorities aren't releasing more information.

Still no word about where on campus the assault actually occurred

A parking lot at Simon Fraser University's Burnaby campus. (Don Marce/CBC)

A day after Burnaby RCMP announced a recent sexual assault at Simon Fraser University, students are looking for more information about the exact spot where it occurred.

Police say the assault happened Monday night near a parking lot on Burnaby Mountain, but the exact location on campus, which is surrounded by woods on all sides, was withheld. 

"There are a lot of parking lots, I walk through a lot of parking lots and I'm always alone walking through them. I think they should release where it happens. It bothers me ... I'd like to know for my own safety," said Sara Grunerud, an SFU student. 

The Burnaby campus has over 100 direct dial emergency phones in various locations. (Don Marce/CBC)

CBC attempted to speak with campus security about the assault's last location but received no response. A reporter was eventually referred to SFU Communications. 

A spokesperson said SFU couldn't comment because of the RCMP investigation. The RCMP said it couldn't provide more information, but was hoping to be able to do so later.

"I don't personally have a location. I have not been able to find the location," said Burnaby RCMP Staff Sgt. John Buis. 

"They had a building and a location, but it was fairly vague, so I want to get more specific."

More lights and Safe Walk services needed

The situation is in stark contrast to the University of British Columbia.

There, authorities have regularly reported the location of sexual assaults by strangers in news releases, and the campus has increased its security presence, lighting and advertising of its Safe Walk program in recent years.

"There's definitely a lot less security presence. UBC is pretty good about advertising its Safe Walk program. Here, I've never heard about it," said SFU student Danette Jubinville. 

"It is better lit here in some areas, but down on the lower road, I don't think it's very well lit at all, and there's a lot more forested areas. I feel less safe on this campus than UBC. " 

SFU has increased security on campus since the assault and the RCMP has had a more sustained presence, but the student union president hopes the incident will spur permanent improvements. 

"In parking areas, lighting ... is quite spread out, so if there's any instances where lighting isn't available or the light bulb is broken, students are definitely impacted," said Larissa Chen, Simon Fraser Student Society president. 

"Personally, what I would recommend is for there to be an audit done on all the lighting on campus, so they can identify spaces where light bulbs are broken, spaces that need to be lit and to fix that and add more infrastructure."

The investigation is still open, and anyone with information is asked to call the Burnaby RCMP at 604-294-7922, or if you wish to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

With files from Anita Bathe

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