Dear campus community,
As most of you now know, we have been mourning the loss this week of a member of the Campus Security team, Harmandeep Kaur. I’d like to again express our profound sorrow to her family and friends and to offer our support at this very difficult time.
I’m moved by the overwhelming support, kindness and grace that has been shown by our community, both on campus and beyond, over these past several days. There are many early responders that showed remarkable professionalism and caring despite the extremely difficult circumstances. I’m grateful to know that in times of tragedy we can come together to demonstrate our humanity and our empathy for those in pain.
As there are many who wish to express their own condolences, we will be holding a vigil on Friday, March 4, 2022, from 2 to 4 pm in front of the University Centre (UNC) and all are invited to attend. A book of condolence will be available to sign and support services from across campus will be available with additional resources. Flags on the UBC Okanagan campus will be lowered on Friday, March 4, 2022, in memory of Harmandeep. There is also a GoFundMe page that has been set up in support of Harmandeep’s family, which you can find here: www.gofundme.com/f/justice-for-harmandeep-kaur.
Many of us have questions surrounding this attack and we are at the beginning of a period of deep introspection and review. While the RCMP’s criminal investigation is underway and must continue unencumbered, a WorkSafeBC incident investigation is also taking place. As a multi-employer workplace, UBCO will be working very closely with Best Service Pro, our janitorial service provider, and Paladin Security, the victim’s employer, to review our collective processes.
We have been in constant contact with the RCMP, who have assured us that this event was isolated and that there is no ongoing threat or risk to our campus community. We are also very sensitive to the fact that there have been several police incidents in recent months in neighbourhoods adjacent to campus. I am confident that these are unrelated matters, but we will work closely with our community partners and neighbours to ensure that a trend does not emerge.
Campus safety is our highest priority and I want to assure you that we have taken serious steps in the past few years that include an external campus security review, a strengthened relationship with our contractor, improved training and a re-establishment of our relationship with the RCMP through a memorandum of understanding. We’ve also created a UBCO-RCMP working group and student focus groups to ensure that our campus and the police are well connected and highly responsive to the needs of our community. Indeed, the RCMP’s efforts to ensure timely and coordinated responses to campus and neighbouring activities in recent months are evidence of the progress that we’ve made in that respect.
With all of that said, I know and appreciate that some are feeling vulnerable and concerned about the safety of students, staff and faculty on campus.
I’d like to point to the many services, supports and security measures that are currently in place and available.
- UBC Alert university’s mass notification system to send alerts in urgent situations that pose an immediate safety or security risk to the community. UBC Alert is only used in active and urgent situations that require your immediate attention.
- Safe Walk Services offer scheduled or spur of the moment drop-ins with volunteers to help make sure you can safely get to your car, the bus stop or wherever you need to go on campus.
- UBC Safe is the official safety app of UBCO. The app features emergency contacts, safety tips, personal safety tools, maps and more.
- The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office is centrally located on campus and is a confidential, non-judgemental place for those who have experienced, or been impacted by, any form of sexual or gender-based violence, harassment or harm, regardless of where or when it took place.
- This campus map denotes where all the Help Phones are located. Help Phones are in well-lit areas with active surveillance and allow you to connect immediately with Campus Security.
- The Emergency First Response Team is a group of student volunteers, organized under Campus Security, which supports a safe and secure campus community by providing 24/7 medical and advanced first aid care. This service supplements a centralized program through Campus Security.
And, of course, health and wellbeing resources for students as well as faculty and staff are available at all times. I encourage anyone that is feeling saddened or overwhelmed by this event to seek these supports. We always strive to learn from experience and do better, so we will look to enhance and expand our services in the weeks to come based on input from our community.
It will take time to process what has happened and to come to terms with what it means for our campus—we will need to be patient and caring as we heal together. In this period of stress and sorrow, I urge everyone to be kind not only to those around you, but also to yourselves. From our custodial staff to security personnel to students, faculty and staff—we all feel this loss and have a role to play in supporting each other.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal