The Greater Victoria School District in British Columbia has dropped a curfew that prohibited international students from visiting the downtown on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The restriction had been imposed after the Victoria Police reported increased vandalism and violence caused by area youths in April and May. Eight youths were arrested over the May 14 weekend. In one of the incidents, a 70-year-old man was kicked, punched and spat on. Several youths were using drugs or alcohol on the streets.
None of those arrested was an international student, officials said.
International students in the Victoria homestay program have a curfew, but it is normally later in the evening, depending on the student’s age.
Earlier this month, the school district emailed both host families and students to impose the early curfew. “As custodians, the international education staff members have the legal responsibility to protect students from potential harm or injury,” the district said in a statement.
The rule applied to international students who participate in the district’s homestay program. Victoria International Education director Jeff Davis wrote to host families on May 18, “To ensure their safety and the safety of others, please consider having a conversation with the students under your care regarding their weekend social activities, including any potential visits to the downtown core.”
“Police had contact with some students who are part of the international program”
The police can only release limited information about youths due to privacy and child protection laws, Bowen Osoko, spokesperson for the Victoria Police Department, told The PIE News. The police have stepped up patrols in the downtown on weekends and have been live-tweeting photos of discarded liquor bottles and damage to property.
“All I can tell you is that police had contact with some students who are part of the international program,” Osoko said.
“This contact does not always mean an arrest. For example, our officers and myself checked in with a group of international students during one of our VicPD Live tweet-alongs and there were no issues with that particular group. There have been issues with other groups.”
Osoko said the decision to impose an early curfew was made by the school district’s international program, not the police.
School district officials emphasise that the Victoria region is a very safe destination for international students.