By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
On May 30, several SFU students took to the Facebook page “‘Must Knows’ for courses at SFU”, to spread awareness about a trespasser and alleged serial sexual harasser on the Burnaby campus.
The initial post informed students about the trespasser’s presence on campus and described incidents of harassment where he followed female students to their car and to the library. On May 31, former SFU student senator and former SFSS applied sciences representative Jeffrey Leung made another post on the same social media page, acknowledging the initial post. Leung mentioned in the post that he had contacted Steven MacLean, Senior Director of SFU Campus Public Safety, to get his comments on the issue.
“Campus Public Safety is actively investigating this matter, and it is correct that the individual has been issued a trespass notice and has been barred from all SFU campuses,” commented MacLean. He informed Leung that at present Campus Public Safety is working with its campus partners as well as police to protect the campus community. MacLean also recommended to community members that they contact Campus Security or the local police immediately should this individual or any others perpetrating similar behaviour be encountered at any SFU locations.
When asked for his own comments on the issue, Leung wrote to The Peak, “Though I would caution students against accusing others in a way that could potentially cause harassment and public outcry, I am thankful that students spoke up to protect others from a harmful situation.”
The posts on Facebook received considerable attention from students, many of whom shared their own incidents about being harassed by the same person. Some students recalled encounters from previous semesters, pointing out that the trespasser might have been around for some time now.
Former SFU student Jashan Randhawa has compiled a list of incidents from SFU students. While encouraging students to make formal complaints, Randhawa has also called for responses from local politicians and security.
Despite several students mentioning their own encounters on the social media post and expressing concerns about their safety, the university reported that only one official complaint regarding the suspect has been made to them.
Responding to the growing concerns with security, a message from SFU’s Chief Safety Officer Mark LaLonde was sent out to the SFU community on Monday, June 4. The message explained that the perpetrator was located and escorted off campus after being given a notice for trespassing. LaLonde’s message further informed students about SFU’s liaison with the RCMP and other stakeholders, to ensure they are aware of the incident.
“Harassment of any type is not acceptable and SFU is deeply committed to providing members of the university community with a safe, supportive and respectful environment in which to live, learn and work.” – Mark LaLonde, Chief Safety Officer
The university security office thanked the university community members for their vigilance and support. Students are also encouraged to use university resources like the Safe Walk Program and the new Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office.
With files from Global News.