Skip to main content

UVic launches investigation into alleged anti-Ukrainian harassment on campus

Students are pictured at the University of Victoria. March 29, 2022 (CTV News) Students are pictured at the University of Victoria. March 29, 2022 (CTV News)
Share

The University of Victoria is looking into recent reports of harassment towards members of the Ukrainian Students Society.

On Thursday, the University of Victoria Students Society (UVSS) released a statement saying the harassment occurred during its Clubs and Course Union Days.

"The UVIC Students’ Society condemns the acts of hate being perpetrated against Ukrainian students on campus," reads the statement.

The UVSS Student Union Building is shown. (CTV News)"These acts of violence were influenced by the current Russian invasion of Ukraine, which we also condemn," the statement adds.

"We stand in solidarity with Ukrainian students, many of whom have been affected more severely by this war than most of us can fathom."

The Ukrainian Student Society tells CTV News that concerning incidents have been occurring since the fall.

The USS claims that another club at UVic, the Young Communist League (YCL), had taken a photo of one of their posters during a UVic club fair day and posted it to its Facebook page, claiming that the USS supported fascism and anti-Semitism in September.

The USS says it contacted UVic and the UVSS about the incident but that both organizations said they were unable to intervene and that the club should try to resolve the issue with the YCL on its own.

On Jan. 18 and 19, during another club fair day event at UVic, the USS says members were yelled at and that the phrase "Nazi scum" was written on some club materials, though it's not clear who was responsible.

Following more complaints in January, the University of Victoria said it was aware of the allegations in a statement Thursday.

Then, one day later, UVic president Kevin Hall said an investigation into the complaints had been launched.

"I want to assure the university community—as well as those who have provided comments from further away—that we are taking action to address the discriminatory, harassing behaviour that some of our students have been experiencing on campus," he said in a statement Friday.

The goal of the investigation is to identify people involved in the incidents and to support a "safer, more inclusive campus," according to Hall.

The Ukrainian Student Society is now calling on UVic and the UVSS to review their policies on how clubs operate at the school.

The USS also wants the UVSS board of directors to receive additional training on how to recognize and respond to hate speech and harassment.

USS member Anastasiya Ishchook tells CTV News that while the statements from UVic and the UVSS last week are appreciated, no one has contacted the USS yet about what actions will be taken to address the allegations.

'SLANDEROUS REMARKS'

The Young Communist League tells CTV News that it denies the claims that the YCL ever harassed the USS, with member Tyson Strandlund describing the allegations as "slanderous remarks."

"No member of the YCL-LJC has ever 'accosted' another UVic student, nor have they made threats, carried out violent acts, or anything else which the UVic Ukrainian Students Society are accusing them of," he said in a statement Monday.

He says in September, a YCL member did take a photo of a USS banner, but only after receiving permission from a member of the USS.

Strandlund says the banner had the motto "Glory to Ukraine. Glory to heroes," written in Ukrainian. The phrase is often associated with an anti-Semitic figure from Ukraine in the 1930s.

The motto has also had a recent resurgence in a different context after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

In the days since the complaints were made, Strandlund says that he and the YCL have received threatening messages and personal details released online.

He says the YCL is an inclusive group that is calling for a "peaceful political settlement to the war in Ukraine." 

The university said it had resources available to support students, such as the UVic equity and human rights website, if they are interested.

The UVSS also highlighted some of its resources, such as the UVSS peer support centre.

Correction

This story has been updated to clarify a reference to the phrase "glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes."

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

How a DNA test solved the biggest mystery in one man's life

At 76 years old, Paul McLister learned the family he'd grown up with had kept a massive secret from him all his life. He also found answers to questions he'd pondered since childhood, and gained a whole new family — all because of a DNA test kit.

Stay Connected