Arrests made after 4 Western students reported sexual assaults in past week, university official says
London, Ont., school also investigating separate reports of sexual violence at residences on the weekend
As Western University investigates reports of sexual violence that allegedly happened as orientation week was ending on the weekend, an official at the London, Ont., school said Monday that arrests were made in separate incidents after four students reported being sexually assaulted in the past week.
Officials said the four cases don't appear to be connected to each other or rumours about alleged sexual assaults at Medway-Sydenham residences on campus. The university launched the current investigation after the rumours began circulating on social media, mainly through the video-sharing app TikTok.
"We are very troubled by the incidents reported over social media this past weekend," said Chris Alleyne, a vice-president in charge of housing. "We are working hard to clarify and confirm these reports. So far, we have received very little information related to these reports, and we're asking anyone with more details to come forward to Western or London Police Services.
"Western has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students over the past week," Alleyne said in a written statement. "We have taken swift and strong action in these cases, including facilitating arrest and removing students from residence while investigations continue.
"I can't emphasize enough that sexual violence will never be tolerated at Western. We will continue to take action on every disclosure and complaint."
We are working to support our students and ensure they feel safe. We have increased security in residence, and have on-site confidential counselling and specialized gender-based violence and survivor support professionals available for our students.- Chris Alleyne, Western University, vice-president, housing and ancillary services
No further details about the four students or the arrests were provided.
But Alleyne added: "We are working to support our students and ensure they feel safe. We have increased security in residence, and have on-site confidential counselling and specialized gender-based violence and survivor support professionals available for our students."
London police said Monday afternoon that they had received no reports of incidents at Medway-Sydenham Hall this past weekend.
Paramedics also told CBC News they did not transport anyone from campus to hospital on Friday or Saturday.
A spokesperson with the police service, Const. Scott Mandich, said in a statement that the allegations stemming from the residence are serious and an investigation is now open to identify and support any victims.
He also said police were contacted and are investigating two incidents of sexual assault on campus from earlier in the week.
As of Sunday night, there had been no formal report or complaint under its gender-based and sexual violence policy connected to the social media reports, Alleyne said.
Students given training
The school's policy states anyone who commits an act of gender-based or sexual violence "will be held accountable in a manner that recognizes the dignity and needs of the survivor, the health and safety of members of the university community and the educational mission of the university."
Students can file an official complaint or request support after disclosing sexual violence, the policy states.
Residence staff and Sophs — upper-year students who help lead orientation week activities — were trained on the sexual violence policy and procedures for students who disclose an incident.
"Gender-based and sexual violence is part of a broader societal issue — of which universities are a part — and Western's commitment to combatting it requires immediate and collective action from across our campus community," Alleyne said.