Heading into September, the big safety concern for the University of Guelph campus was around COVID-19, but news breaking from both the Guelph Police Service and campus police over the weekend warned students about another, sadly familiar, safety concern. The police in the city, and on campus, as well as the U of G admin are warning people to keep an eye on their drinks because “suspicious substances” are also flowing.
On Saturday night, the Guelph Campus Safety Office (aka: Campus Police) posted an advisory on their website and social media pages, “The Campus Safety Office (CSO) has received information from students who believe that unbeknownst to them, a foreign substance was placed in their drinks,” the alert said.
The Guelph Police Service, in their own release on Saturday night, offered a bit more detail saying that Guelph Police started investigating after female students had come forward to report their drinks had been spiked with an unknown substance.
“Two of the complaints are related to a recent house party in the south end of Guelph and two are related to a small on-campus gathering last month. The Guelph Police Service has opened an investigation and will work collaboratively with campus police to investigate the allegations,” the release said adding, “No assaults or physical injuries were reported.”
In their own statement on Sunday, the University of Guelph offered still more detail. On Friday, students reported that they believed that an “unknown substance” was placed in their drinks at an off campus party. In August, two other students reported that they were “feeling unwell after drinking substances outdoors on campus.” The U of G’s media release said that both incidents are under investigation.
“The University takes such situations seriously. We strive to provide living, working and learning environments that are safe, respectful and free of all acts of violence, including sexual violence,” said the media release.
“Students are encouraged to be vigilant. If you believe that you have been victimized or have information to share about these incidents, please contact the CSO office at 519-840-5000, Ext. 2000. Students should also download the free safety app ‘SafeGryphon’ containing many safety features,” the release added.
Anyone with any information about the incidents is being asked to call Sergeant Jeff Taylor of the Guelph Police Service Special Victims Unit at 519-824-1212, ext. 7333, or send him an email at jtaylor [at] guelphpolice.ca. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
This news from the U of G’s campus comes after a week of reporting from the campus of Western University where it’s alleged that as many as 30 people were assaulted in the first week of school in residences there, at least four were reported to the administration. This is also just a few days after the annual Take Back the Night commemoration in Guelph, and around the region.
Sadly, young people, especially women, need to be made aware about the possibility of sexual violence on campus. According to Statistics Canada, almost half of all self-reported sexual assaults were against people between the ages of 15 to 24. Many on-campus assaults occur in the first eight weeks of the school year, and 80 per cent of rapes on college and university campuses are committed by someone known to the victim. Also, one-third of people who experienced unwanted sexual experiences said their most serious experience was in university, and one-half reported that it was in their first year of study.
If you need more than police assistance, the U of G is encouraging you to reach out to the sexual violence support and education co-ordinator, or to call the Women in Crisis support like at 1-800-265-7233, or the Guelph General Hospital support centre at 519-822-5350 ext. 2728.