The walkout is scheduled to take place at 12 noon on Friday at US Hill at Western. The event follows reports on social media that female students living in housing on campus were drugged and some were sexually assaulted over the weekend.
On Tuesday, London police held a press conference, in which Chief Steve Williams confirmed that he had opened an investigation into “reports circulating on social media that a number of Medway-Sydenham Hall students have been drugged and sexually assaulted over the weekend – some reports suggest 30 or more students may have been victimized.
Police also confirmed that they were investigating three other incidents of sexual assault involving four female victims, which occurred the previous week.
Reports of sexual assault during the first week of school sparked outrage among students and the community, leading several students to organize Friday’s event to take a stand against gender-based violence.
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Western University students plan walkout Friday amid sexual assault allegations
“We see this as a positive step forward in publicly affirming a collective commitment to end sexual gender-based violence. It’s an opportunity to work together on Western culture and make sure everyone feels safe on campus, ”said Western President Alan Shepard.
“We fully support members of the campus community who wish to participate in Friday’s event. “
The event also received support from the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA), which represents faculty members, university librarians and archivists of the university.
“We encourage our members who are not teaching tomorrow afternoon to join this march for student safety, and to consider accommodation for students who leave the classroom or lab to join the event,” the association said on Twitter on Thursday.
Western University and London police urge survivors to come forward amid reports on social media of student and drug abuse
The group of students planning the walkout has issued several calls to action, including asking the school to immediately prepare and implement “coherent and mandatory training modules on gender-based violence education and sexual ”.
King’s University College at Western University on Thursday announced the cancellation of all classes on Friday and Monday to allow students to reset and acknowledge their distress.
Since launching an investigation into the incidents over the weekend, police said no one had made a formal complaint about the allegations online.
Western University is also working with Anova to provide walk-in counseling and peer support to students following reports of sexual assault.
Anova is an organization that works to combat gender-based violence, providing shelter to victims and support in cases of sexual assault.
Wednesday through Friday this week, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Sydenham Hall in Western, Anova will offer one-on-one counseling, peer support and calming activities.
Anyone who has experienced sexual or gender-based violence can contact the Anova crisis line 24/7 at 519-642-3000, LAWC 519-432-2204 or the helpline for women victims of violence in Canada. 519-642-3000.
– with files from The Canadian Press