Ukrainian students say so far, UVic probe into harassment allegations hasn’t involved them

Ukrainian students say so far, UVic probe into harassment allegations hasn't involved them

In the wake of alleged harassment and hate speech targeting the Ukrainian Students’ Society at the University of Victoria, the group requested campus security at its annual general meeting Tuesday night.

“It just seems so very serious and scary,” said Anika, co-president of the Ukrainian Students Society, who asked for her last name to be protected in fear of being targeted personally.

The society says members have been increasingly targeted since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

On Sept. 15, 2022, the Young Communist League (a registered UVic society) posted to Facebook a picture of the Ukrainian Students Society’s banner which had the common patriotic “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes” written on it, calling it anti-Semitic.

On Jan. 18, the words “Nazi scum” were written on their email sign-up list.

The UVic Ukrainian Students Society shared a picture of their email signup sheet, where one person wrote “Nazi Scum”. (uvicuss/Instagram)

In a recent statement on Facebook, the Young Communist League seemingly doubled down, writing that the Ukrainian club’s choice to speak “in the days leading up to the international day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust on Jan. 27, was particularly shocking. But it is not coincidental.”

“It’s very disappointing,” said Anika. “What we’d really like is some accountability.”

Anika says the Young Communist League has been targeting the Ukrainian club since 2018, but their harassment has escalated since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

After allegations of not taking the Ukrainian Students’ Society’s complaints seriously, UVic announced Friday it would be launching an investigation.

In response to CHEK News’ request for comment, a spokesperson from UVic gave details of their investigation, saying its Equity and Human Rights office is leading the investigation.

“They are prioritizing this work. The first step in our investigation is to review all the information received to date on where the threats are alleged to have originated,” said Kristen Lauvaas, associate director of public affairs for UVic.

“We are committed to moving as swiftly as possible.”

But the Ukrainian Students Society says they haven’t been asked to submit anything.

“So far we haven’t been approached for a meeting or any evidence regarding the investigation so we’re just left a little bit confused,” said Anika.

The society feels like they’ve been left in the dark throughout the reporting process and now the investigation, and are asking for more transparency.

UVic did tell CHEK News that “If a UVic community member is identified to have breached our discrimination and harassment policy, consequences may follow.”

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian club’s annual meeting is carrying on with campus security on alert.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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