Suspects determined in two incidents allegedly involving date-rape drugs on campus

By in News

Last updated April 26, 2018 @ 22:00

On Oct. 26, 2017, the Sheaf published an article detailing an alleged date-rape drugging attempt at Louis’ Pub. According to the University of Saskatchewan, the incident in October was not the only one that has allegedly involved date-rape druggings since January 2016.

In October, Deena Kapacila, outgoing vice-president operations and finance, noted that she thought student leaders might be potential targets of sexual violence, as she herself had an encounter with a man who offered her a drink that she believed contained a substance. At the time, she also mentioned that a separate incident involving date-rape drugs had occured. It is still unclear whether the second incident, now confirmed to have taken place, also targeted a student leader.

Patti McDougall, vice­provost of teaching, learning and student experience at the U of S, was asked to comment on whether students should be concerned about these two incidents. She responded that, while date-rape drugs are not a new concept, the campus community should always be mindful of sexual assault.

“My immediate answer is [that] I am always concerned whenever I hear about something like this happening… I think the campus community should continue to be vigilant and concerned about sexual assault, full stop,” McDougall said. “These two instances, for me, don’t elevate that risk beyond where it already is.”

The University of Saskatchewan may not publish an alert about a sexual assault or attempted assault if there is no imminent threat or risk to the public.

In February, the Sheaf submitted an access to information request inquiring whether or not there had been any alleged or confirmed cases of sexual violence or assaults involving date-rape drugs on campus. While two incidents may have  involved date-rape drugs, the response could not confirm that date-rape drugs were actually involved. However, McDougall notes that suspected individuals were determined in both cases.

The second incident was an allegation of sexual assault, but no dates, names or locations were specified in the report. According to The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, these details cannot be divulged due to privacy and law­-enforcement concerns.

McDougall notes that she does not want students to bear the responsibility or be blamed for being a target of sexual violence and assault. Instead, she encourages all students to make themselves aware of the potential risks that are associated with alcohol consumption, as it is the most common date-rape drug. Additionally, she wants students to be watchful and intervene when they see an attack, and she notes that the U of S now provides Bringing in the Bystander training workshops to help all students and staff develop safe and appropriate intervention skills.

The campus community is occasionally alerted about potential concerns and threats. McDougall discusses why certain cases of sexual violence are published in alerts to the campus community while others are not, noting that there is a criteria she considers.

“In our policy and procedures document, [we] set out a set of conditions that we go through every time a sexual assault is reported to Protective Services, and we ask ourselves, … first and foremost, ‘What is the threat-risk or what are the safety implications for campus?’” McDougall said.

If there is not an imminent threat or risk, then the campus community will likely not be alerted. McDougall says that the university also takes into consideration whether or not there is an active police investigation being carried out, whether or not the parties involved will be emotionally impacted and if there is educational value to an alert.

“One of the things that I’ve realized over the years is that, every time I put out a campus notification, even though I know I’m doing it with all of the best intentions — I’m doing it to alert our students to potential danger, to create awareness, to build a community of responsibility to each other — I have also come to understand that it traumatizes people when I do that.”

Nykole King / News Editor

Photo: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor