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Another BC University Under Fire for Botching Sex Assault Cases

Police are investigating a Simon Fraser University student accused of assaulting three women, two of whom lived in the same dorm as him.

SFU photo via Wikimedia Commons

Police are investigating a student accused of sexually assaulting three women at British Columbia's second largest university, according to the Vancouver Sun. With this latest set of allegations at Simon Fraser University, three of the province's major academic institutions have now come under fire for fumbling sexual assault cases in the past six months.

This week, BC's premier spoke out about her own experience with assault, explaining why she introduced legislation passed last month that will require schools to create new sexual assault policies. At campuses in Victoria, Vancouver and Burnaby, women say sexual assault reporting processes are difficult to navigate, women are told to keep silent at risk of disciplinary action, and alleged rapists are not stopped from harming other women during drawn-out investigations. All schools have a year to put new victim supports and reporting procedures in place. In the SFU student case, two of the women lived in the same dorm room as the accused. Both reported being raped to campus police in January of this year. According to the Vancouver Sun report, one of the incidents happened in October, the other over Christmas break. The school conducted a safety assessment, and encouraged victims to keep quiet during the investigation. The two women quit school after becoming frustrated with the school's response, and repeatedly coming in contact with their assailant. "It doesn't surprise me," Kaayla Ashlie, SFU student and advocate for an on-campus rape support centre, told VICE. "The way our services are laid out, quite often it's up to survivors to remove themselves from the situation." A third woman came forward to report a sexual assault by the same student, but those details haven't been made public. In March, VICE spoke to a student at the University of Victoria who said she felt silenced by the handling of her rape investigation. She was told not to share investigation details with anybody except family, police, lawyers or a professional therapist, and that failure to maintain confidentiality could result in disciplinary action. At the University of British Columbia, a former student launched a human rights case claiming the school was slow to act on a serial attacker, resulting in more women being victimized. The school has since introduced a draft sexual assault policy, which addresses some, but not all, of the former student's concerns. The former student said the process of reporting an assault is still confusing, and requires different actions, depending whether the accused is student or faculty. "This policy does not tell a victim what is going to happen, and as a result, it won't encourage people to report," she told Canadian Press. UBC will host public consultation on the school's new sex assault policy over the next few months. Follow Sarah Berman on Twitter.