News / Vancouver

Police presence at UBC at unprecedented levels

Police presence at the University of British Columbia has reached unprecedented levels in the wake of six sexual assaults, said the president of the university on Wednesday morning.

“I want to make it very clear how unusual this circumstance is, this is one of the safest campuses in North America,” said Stephen Toope, the president and vice-chancellor of UBC. “There is not normally a climate of fear or insecurity on campus.”

The six reported sexual assaults, dating back to April, are believed it to be the work of one suspect, RCMP said Tuesday.

The latest attack came on Sunday morning as a student was walking to Gage residences.

The university has responded by lengthening the Alma Mater Society’s SafeWalk program hours, as well as putting security guards at residences and creating a walk-home program for students in residence.

Millions of dollars have also been spent on upgrading lighting around the university in recent years, with several areas being completely relit.

Since the third attack, lights have been brightened during the evening hours.

“I have kids that live on campus and I’m every bit as concerned about safety as any parent,” Toope said. “We are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of their children, it’s our top priority.”

Louise Cowin, the vice president of students, said SafeWalk has seen a boost in usage since the attacks were reported.

On average, SafeWalk gets three to 10 requests to walk students home per night, Cowin said. Monday night saw 64 students requesting the service.

In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Cowin discussed the possibility of installing security cameras, but only after consultation with the university community.

On Wednesday, Toope was reluctant to commit to the idea citing concerns about community privacy and would wait for a report from a campus security group about the need for cameras.

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