It's not just a few. Now it's a spate of at least six sexual assaults that have been reported on the University of British Columbia campus in recent memory, all of which are believed to have been carried out by the same suspect.
RCMP now say that a total of six incidents of sexual assault have been reported to authorities, the most recent of which occurred on Sunday.
In each case a young woman walking alone on campus is approached and grabbed from behind. The series dates back to April. The entire case has been turned over to major crimes investigators, RCMP announced on Tuesday.
"These incidents are extremely troubling. The RCMP is using every means available to quickly identify and apprehend this perpetrator," Sgt. Peter Thiessen said in a statement.
The spate of assaults has done some damage to the reputation of the otherwise top-notch school. Sexual attacks on university campuses are certainly troubling. It is a place where young men and women can be found, often at odd hours and often distracted and alone.
But the issue is not a campus problem. Hunting grounds for sex offenders are not chosen based on a desire for higher learning. They are chosen based on the prevalence of targets.
And how do we combat such attacks? Awareness.
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When a series of sexual assaults were reported in the Toronto neighbourhood of Christie Pits last year, local residents held marches and posted signs. Police increased their presence in the area. In the end, a suspect was arrested and the attacks came to an end.
Some of the same steps are already being taken in Vancouver. The RCMP says that officers knocked on hundreds of doors over the weekend and added more bike patrols. The Ubessey campus newspaper reports that the university has launched a program to provide escorts for studnets walking between buildings.
It may be happening on campus, but it is a larger public issue. And it won't end until possible victims are all aware, and the hunter becomes the hunted.
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