Female student escapes rapist at UWI

The Guild of Stu­dents of The Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies has called an emer­gency meet­ing for to­mor­row, af­ter a sec­ond-year fe­male stu­dent es­caped an at­tempt­ed rape and rob­bery at the cam­pus ear­li­er to­day.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports, the stu­dent was at­tacked near the fe­male lock­er bath­room at the Stu­dent Ac­tiv­i­ties Cen­tre by an un­known as­sailant around 1 pm and was in­ju­red by her at­tack­er be­fore he fled.

De­tails are sketchy but the T&T Guardian was told the stu­dent strug­gled with her at­tack­er af­ter she was am­bushed by him and was slashed on her leg with a knife he was armed with be­fore he ran off as her screams alert­ed oth­er stu­dents. The sus­pect lat­er es­caped through the cam­pus' south­ern gate, which runs to the high­way, as UWI se­cu­ri­ty searched the com­pound for him. The UWI am­bu­lance ar­rived short­ly af­ter and took the stu­dent to the cam­pus health fa­cil­i­ty for treat­ment.

Re­ports of the at­tack were made pub­lic via a voice note from a con­cerned fe­male stu­dent, who re­lat­ed the in­ci­dent and warned her col­leagues to be care­ful, es­pe­cial­ly at nights, due to the re­cent spate of at­tacks.

This prompt­ed some stu­dents to launch a so­cial me­dia move­ment with the hash­tag #morethananum­ber while tag­ging the uni­ver­si­ty's han­dle, in an at­tempt to get the uni­ver­si­ty au­thor­i­ties to deal with the se­cu­ri­ty is­sues on the cam­pus.

Speak­ing to the T&T Guardian ear­li­er, Guild pres­i­dent Dar­ri­on Nar­ine said, "Stu­dents are in an up­roar over the in­ci­dent that oc­curred to­day and they are de­mand­ing that more be done by the uni­ver­si­ty's ad­min­is­tra­tion with re­gards to our safe­ty. Mem­bers of the Guild have al­ready met with the vic­tim and we have of­fered her our sup­port."

He added, "These trau­mat­ic ex­pe­ri­ences can neg­a­tive­ly af­fect our stu­dents and their peace of mind. One stu­dent even re­marked to me, 'some­body have tuh die or wah be­fore ad­min start tak­ing stu­dents se­ri­ous­ly?"

Nar­ine said con­cern was mount­ing amongst the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion af­ter the uni­ver­si­ty cut spend­ing for se­cu­ri­ty, de­spite the fact that crim­i­nal at­tacks against stu­dents has been on the in­crease over the years.

"If you are go­ing to cut the bud­get of se­cu­ri­ty on cam­pus, the least that can be done is to re­al­lo­cate those funds to­wards the crim­i­nol­o­gy de­part­ment or a de­part­ment that can con­trib­ute a so­lu­tion or to­wards the de­cline of the crime cul­ture both on cam­pus and na­tion­al­ly," Nar­ine said.

"For too long the uni­ver­si­ty has been a silent gi­ant with re­gards to press­ing so­cial is­sues of both stu­dents and the peo­ple of Trinidad and To­ba­go. The uni­ver­si­ty was once a pow­er­house but clear­ly, they have lost the en­er­gy to pow­er the house and to em­pow­er stu­dents."In the re­lease, the Guild al­so said this lat­est in­ci­dent was one in a se­ries of six oth­ers hap­pen­ing over the past month which in­volved stu­dents be­ing held at gun­point on the cam­pus. The Guild said they are yet to re­ceive any state­ment from the ad­min­is­tra­tion in the wake of the lat­est in­ci­dent.

The Guild called on the uni­ver­si­ty to ad­dress the se­cu­ri­ty is­sues on the cam­pus, in­clud­ing im­ple­ment­ing more func­tion­al se­cu­ri­ty cam­eras, bet­ter light­ing and in­creas­ing se­cu­ri­ty pro­to­cols and pa­trols of key ar­eas.

To­mor­row's meet­ing is card­ed for 1.30 pm at the SAC.Uni­ver­si­ty of­fi­cials said they are not yet in a po­si­tion to re­spond.

How­ev­er, of­fi­cers of the St Joseph Po­lice Sta­tion said they are yet to re­ceive any re­port on the in­ci­dent.

- by Rishard Khan & Peter Christopher 

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