Written by: Amneet Mann, News Editor
Updated on October 13: This article has been edited since its original publication to include comments provided by SFU student Ashley Lee to The Peak.
A Facebook post detailing the campus violence incident which occured in Robert C. Brown Hall on Wednesday, October 3 alleges that the university did not assist the students who witnessed the event.
The post was created by SFU student Ashley Lee, who was in the room that the violent student eventually entered. At the time of publication, Lee’s post has gained approximately 2,500 Facebook reactions, over 1,400 shares, and over 700 comments. It has since been shared on the SFU subreddit.
In the post, Lee summarized the incident, which involved a student who became upset in his own class and then entered Lee’s classroom. The student began throwing tables and chairs at students, which left one student with blood running down her face and a concussion.
Between October 11 and October 13, The Peak corresponded with Lee about the incident. On October 13, Lee sent The Peak a more detailed account of her experience, noting that she had previously sent the information to a reporter from British Columbia Institute of Technology in an interview with them.
Lee wrote that her professor, Dr. Orion Kidder, had left their classroom to investigate when they heard someone screaming in another class. While Kidder attempted to talk the aggressive student down, he asked the students in Lee’s class to close and lock the doors, but the students were unable to do so as the door had no locks and it opened outwards, which made it possible for the violent student to enter Lee’s classroom.
“I have since discovered that there aren’t locks on any of the classroom doors at SFU (at least none that I have seen),” wrote Lee in her public post. Many of the classrooms at SFU, despite having locks, cannot be locked or unlocked without a key.
“Our prof told us to get out and run, which most of us did, except the girls who were hit with the chairs,” wrote Lee in the interview. “I was with the majority of the class who had to run up several flights of stairs to get out of RCB [to] where there was cell reception.” The students then flagged down a security officer who “smirked and didn’t think it was a big deal,” before attending to the situation.
According to Lee’s Facebook post, the class received a visit from a psychologist from SFU Health and Counselling and a security officer following the incident, upon request from Kidder.
“[They] basically told us the situation wasn’t that bad and we were all overreacting. They made us feel small and insignificant,” wrote Lee. During the interview, she spoke further to this, recalling that when the students asked the security officer to note issues like the lack of locks on the doors, “he didn’t even write anything down.”
Lee noted in her public post that since that visit, the students have not been contacted by the university. “It’s like they are trying to pretend it never happened.”
SFU has informed CBC News that “the student in question is no longer on campus,” and the RCMP has reported that the student has been apprehended under the Mental Health Act. An investigation into the matter is currently underway.
In an email interview with The Peak, Kidder wrote that Campus Security arrived at the scene after he had been talking to the violent student for several minutes. “Their priority appeared to be to secure the scene for the RCMP,” he noted.
Kidder noted that SFU had offered him counselling services that would not normally fall under his benefits package as an adjunct professor and a member of the TSSU, though they do fall under the benefits package of faculty.
Upon reaching out to Health and Counselling Services (HCS), The Peak was notified that communications around the incident are being managed directly by Tim Rahilly, SFU vice-provost and associate vice-president, students and international.
In an interview with The Peak, Rahilly confirmed that the university was aware of the incident. He noted that the university has been working with classroom instructors and department chair to have them provide information to the students who were affected by the incident.
“There were some classroom visits by staff from Health and Counselling and from Campus Security, but based on [student] feedback, we were concerned,” said Rahilly.
Rahilly mentioned that, since the university has noted the social media activity, it has begun reaching out to the affected students individually in an effort to match them with the support they need.
Rahilly responded to the portion of Lee’s post which commented that the student which sustained a concussion during the incident later took the bus home, saying that “it may not come as a surprise [ . . . ] that the university was not aware of the student who went home on the bus bleeding. That is not what we would want to occur.”
For students who have been affected by this incident, Rahilly noted HCS and My SSP as resources that could provide support.
Students are encouraged to visit HCS for in-person support. Students who indicate upon check-in that they were affected by the campus violence event will be given priority service, and HCS will attempt to connect them with support the same day.
For more immediate support, Rahilly noted that the My SSP app provides SFU students with 24/7 access to confidential mental support in various languages and platforms, such as telephone and messaging.
As of October 12, SFU has released a public statement on the incident. “I’m glad they are finally reaching out but it’s upsetting it took this long and required a bit of a fight, which has been even more draining on my mental health,” wrote Lee to The Peak.
“There is still a long way to go (we would like to know what safety measures are being taken and the girls who were injured should be apologized to and offered any help they may need) but we’re off to a good start,” she added.
The Peak has reached out to SFU Campus Security for an updated statement regarding the incident, but has not received a response as of this article’s publication date. More information will follow as this story develops.
With files from CBC News.
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