Concordia issues public safety alert after reports of drugging and sexual assault

Montreal's Concordia University warned students Monday evening of social media invitations masked as professional development opportunities that have resulted in reported drugging and sexual assault.

Students were sent invitations on Instagram masked as professional opportunities

Concordia University says social media invitations veiled as professional opportunities have lured students into situations of sexual violence. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Montreal's Concordia University sent out a public safety alert to students Monday evening after two students reported being lured off-campus by job interview offers on Instagram, then drugged and sexually assaulted.

The university says Montreal police are investigating the incidents, and the school is warning students to be wary on all social media platforms.

University spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said the first incident took place in the winter and the second in September, but that the school was made aware of them last week.
Concordia released a statement saying that: 'We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is safe for all.' (Radio-Canada)

"The women went directly to police, which is a good thing. They reported the incidents and we only found out about this last week," said Barr.

She said the university sent the alert as soon as it was able to confirm the reports and get the students' permission to go public.

"We're encouraging anyone who needs support in general to speak out and come forward," she said. "We definitely have a support network in place for them."

The warning came in the form of a public safety alert emailed to students and staff. 

"The university is cautioning students to be extra vigilant when responding to unsolicited social media offers," said the email, signed by Concordia's deputy provost, Lisa Ostiguy and services vice-president Roger Côté. 

Anyone with information or in need of help is asked to contact the school's Sexual Assault Resource Centre at 514-848-2424, ext. 3353, or its Security Department at 514-848-3717, option 1.

"We would like to take this opportunity to remind students that Concordia has a zero tolerance for sexual violence of any kind," the email added.

"We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment that is safe for all."

With files from CBC's The National