UWI ramps up security following attempted robbery

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

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The University of the West Indies ramped up security on the Mona campus in St Andrew last weekend following the attempted robbery of a female student last week.

In a social media post dated April 6, The UWI Guild of Students reported that on Wednesday night the female student was walking in the vicinity of Taylor Hall when she was attacked by an unknown assailant in an attempted robbery.

According to the post, students from Taylor Hall overheard the female student's cries for help and ran to assist her, successfully scaring off the assailant. It also said that the guild president-elect was in close proximity and attended to the student. She was escorted to the police station where she filed a report.

The guild's vice-president of services and special projects reportedly met with campus security, as well as the student and her father the day following the incident.

The guild requested additional patrols in the area where the attempted robbery took place, as well as for other high-risk areas. It was also reported that campus security will be employing a canine on their patrols.

“Moreover, our request for additional lighting in that vicinity will be met in short order. The security guards in the vicinity of the incident have also been suspended pending investigation,” the guild post said.

“The student is currently receiving emergency counselling facilitated through partnership with the Office of Student Services and Development and the Guild Council. Further discussions are being had to develop a sustainable model that will prevent or at least mitigate similar incidences from occurring,” read the post.

Last month, the Jamaica Observer reported that a male student at The UWI is facing possible disciplinary measures for allegedly sexually assaulting several female students on the Irvine Hall dormitories of the campus.

The reports came to the Observer from at least three secondary sources, including two students who revealed that the victims of the alleged assaults were afraid to come forward because the accused was reportedly still living on the hall after they reported it to the campus registrar and campus security.

When the Observer contacted the university to say whether or not the reports were valid, a marketing and communications officer said that the university is treating the reports as a disciplinary matter.

Pressed on the details of the reports, an official from the university said: “As it relates to your request for specific details on the matter, we sincerely apologise, but The UWI Mona is not in a position to discuss publicly, as it may compromise the proceedings. I do hope you understand.”

However, one of the students, who asked only to be identified as a resident of Irvine Hall, confirmed that she knew of three victims, two from the region and one Jamaican, one of whom she said returned home because of the traumatic experience.

“The accusations came out during the latter part of February and the beginning of March. Several students were sexually assaulted but I can confirm three. Two regional students and one Jamaican student were sexually assaulted,” the student said.

“We were hearing about it from that time and the campus registrar was notified. The girls were told that he was not supposed to be on hall while the investigation was going on, but he was still on hall and the girls reported it to the police. The police took him in for questioning and he was later released and has been on hall since. One student ended up going back home. The other regional student is afraid and just stays in her dorm, and the Jamaican student I hardly see her around anymore. They just stay in their rooms,” the student added.

Keith “Trinity” Gardner, a retired assistant commissioner of police, who is in charge of campus security, told the Observer that the student was taken in for questioning and removed from the hall. He also said that his investigations revealed that the accused did assault several female students but that the assaults were not of a sexual nature.

“I can categorically say from my investigation, and speaking with the victims, that there was no case of sexual assault. There were reports of alleged assaults committed by one individual against several females,” he said.

“From all the witnesses and complainants that I have interviewed, none of them disclosed any sexual assault. They disclosed that they were assaulted but it was not of a sexual nature. Statements have been collected. The complainants went to the Mona police and made reports and asserted that they did not want to proceed against the alleged offender criminally.

“It was left for the director of security of the campus to conduct an intensive investigation into the matter. The investigation was done; statements were collected and they were forwarded to the university's senior management along with a report.”

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