The University of the Virgin Islands is stunned by an alleged sexual assault that occurred on the St. Thomas Campus early Saturday morning, UVI officials said in a statement Monday. The young woman who was assaulted was a UVI student. However, the individual that is alleged to have committed this act is not a student attending the University, according to the school.
“We are always extremely concerned when any incident like this occurs. We take sexual assault very seriously,” UVI President David Hall said in a statement.
“We are providing support for the student,” he said adding the school is “very much committed to supporting individuals when this occurs, both from a medical, counseling and security standpoint.”
According to one student, many of the dormitory residents are fearful, angry, and confused in the aftermath of the assault.
University officials say UVI’s Security Department and the Office of the Dean of Students on St. Thomas responded to this incident as soon as it was reported. UVI Security started to investigate the matter and contacted the V.I. Police Department and UVI security turned the incident over to the VIPD, which has taken the lead on this investigation. The University and the VIPD will continue to work together on the investigation, officials say.
“There was not a break-in that occurred during this particular situation, which indicates there was no lapse in security,” Hall said.
“UVI’s campus is one of the safest in the nation,” he said based on crime data submitted each year. These statistics track crime on university campuses across the nation. “However we will monitor the campuses even more because of this incident,” he said.
University officials emphasized there is security and incidents are rare, saying UVI’s security officers are on the campuses at all times and some officers also have peace officer status.
“We will continue to be vigilant and increase our patrol services on campus to ensure that our students remain safe,” UVI Chief Campus Police and Security Theodore Glasford said.
Over the years, UVI has increased security on campus, adding blue light emergency contact phones, additional security cameras and enhancing lighting on campus.
“We have invested quite a bit of resources in trying to improve security, but as this incident demonstrates, even when you have a very secure campus, someone can still engage in this kind of horrendous act,” Hall said. “Our security does a very good job in trying to monitor who is coming on campus especially at certain hours. There is always more that can be done and in an open campus environment, we are always looking at how we can monitor the campus more and how we can do a better job.”
Violence and crime is rare at UVI. This is the most serious incident reported to the public since the 2013 murder of 22 year old Troy Joseph on the St. Croix campus.
UVI administrators and staff will meet with students to discuss proper implementation of existing security measures. Students are also encouraged be vigilant and to report suspicious individuals to the Security Office at (340) 693-1530. Students are asked to contact Dahlia Stridiron, director of Counseling Services, should they need counseling.