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‘Hundreds, if not close to 1,000’ unmasked students party on B.C. university campus

No COVID-19 restrictions violated, University of Victoria urges students not to gather
Saanich PD responded to a large crowd on UVic campus Sunday night (Black Press Media file photo)

The Saanich Police Department says a large number of unmasked University of Victoria students were seen partying on campus Sunday after 10 p.m., three days before in-person classes are set to begin.

Videos taken by staff at the campus newspaper The Martlet show students standing together on residence balconies and between buildings, with others climbing into trees and onto roofs.

Const. Markus Anastasiades with Saanich Police told Black Press Media there were “hundreds, if not close to 1,000, young adults” crowded around residence buildings on campus.

Two Saanich officers were already assigned to help UVic Security in anticipation of large gatherings at the start of the semester, and two additional officers arrived on scene Sunday night to assist “as the crowd grew larger.”

READ MORE: University of Victoria survey shows high vax uptake; campus return details clarified

There are no current provincial restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings, mask-wearing, or physical distancing. However, Saanich Police reports two tickets were issued to individuals under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

When asked whether Saanich Police is considering increasing its presence on campus after Sunday night’s crowds, Anastasiades said police will “continue working with UVic to determine the appropriate police response for this week and weekend.”

In a statement posted online Monday, the University of Victoria urged students not to gather in large numbers.

“By holding or attending large, unstructured parties, students increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Their behaviour is unacceptable,” said Jim Dunsdon, associate vice-president of student affairs.

The first day of classes at UVic is Wednesday, Sept. 8.