Weekend crowds on campus

UVic, local police increase efforts to prevent unruly crowds

Due to the increasing size and recklessness of crowds of young people on university property, the university and Saanich Police are taking unprecedented measures to stop unsafe and unsanctioned gatherings.

“We’ve never seen this amount of people and disorderly behaviour in previous years,” said Thomas Downie, director of Campus Security Services. “Our campus, in particular the residence spaces, are where our students live and study and they need to feel safe.”

During the most recent gathering on the Halloween weekend, several hundred people descended on UVic near the student residences, becoming drunk and disorderly including setting off illegal fireworks. According to Saanich police, the large majority of youths who attended were not UVic students. However, their actions, in addition to those of some UVic students, compel the university to take additional public safety steps.

Stepped-up enforcement

Since September, Campus Security has increased the number of weekend staff and hired additional special duty Saanich police officers to help manage public safety, however the size and nature of the outdoor crowds has changed. Additional measures are now necessary, in particular to dissuade the non-UVic students in the region from gathering on the UVic campus to party.

On Nov. 5, Saanich police will have Impaired Driving Counter Attack check stops near campus to prevent drinking and driving and will have an increased presence and visibility on university grounds near the residence precinct along with Campus Security.

Early intervention

If people are seen gathering in groups near the residences, police or campus security may approach them to talk to them about why they’re on campus. If they’re not UVic students, they will be asked to leave before larger groups can form. Campus security and Saanich police are aware of the sensitivities around asking individuals to identify themselves and engaging in conversations. However, given the extraordinary nature of gatherings taking place near residence after hours, these measures are necessary to ensure only students who live in those buildings are in that area.

Saanich police will continue to ticket any individual for offences such as open alcohol and underage drinking. Charges for destruction of UVic property or other criminal offenses may be laid if appropriate.

UVic is also authorizing Saanich police on its behalf to enforce the Trespass Act which enables them to require non-UVic students who are not entitled to be present in the residence district, or in other places on campus, to leave university property should that be necessary. 

“The university is not taking these steps lightly, but they are necessary to address a dangerous trend that is putting people at risk. We hope these measures will allow our campus to return as soon as possible to a safe and welcoming environment both day and night,” said Downie.

No-guest policy for student housing

As part of the measures UVic took earlier this year, there is currently a no-guest policy in place for students living on campus. We appreciate that the majority of our students have respected this policy and continue to contribute to a safe and healthy campus environment. Individuals including UVic students who do not live on campus should not be visiting UVic residence buildings and the surrounding grounds, as this violates UVic’s policy. 

Student conduct policies

We also want to remind UVic students that we have policies in place, including the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy, to govern their behaviour on UVic property.

Violations of these policies can result in significant sanctions, and serious or repeat offenses can affect an individual’s status as a UVic student. We are investigating reports from this weekend and will work with individual students to appropriately address confirmed conduct issues.

Ensuring a safe environment for students

Our students’ well-being is of utmost importance to us. November is a time when many students are studying for midterms and writing papers, and final exams take place in December. It is imperative that students living on campus feel safe and have quiet time in their homes to focus on their studies.

If any student feels unsafe while on campus, they are encouraged to speak with Campus Security. Campus Security has Safe Walk and Campus Alone programs available 24/7 to all members of the campus community. Through their Personal Safety Coordinator program, Campus Security can address security concerns and develop personal safety programs for residence communities. Students who live on campus can also speak with their Community Leader.

Students are also encouraged to reach out to UVic’s Student Wellness team or to a counsellor through the Support Connect program if they have any health and wellness concerns.

We ask everyone to please be respectful of your peers, those living and working on the UVic campus, and our neighbours, and engage in social activities that do not disturb the peace or put members of the community at risk.