TRU students charged with violent crime

Three students made headlines last week, but not in a good way

Three TRU students, in as many days, were in court last week facing charges for violent crimes.

Vladislav Arnautov, a 23-year-old business student, was released on bail March 3 after being charged with assault causing bodily harm. According to a recent report by Kamloops This Week, Arnautov admitted to beating and choking his girlfriend, also a TRU student, before being arrested Feb. 26. The pair was living in an apartment off campus where the assault allegedly took place.

Arnautov has since been placed on house arrest, although he will still be attending classes (accompanied by a friend, as per his release restrictions). The March 3 ruling also forbid him from contacting his girlfriend in any way, KTW reported.

The following day, law student Houtan Sanandaji appeared in court for a year-old assault charge.

Kings Chukwemeka Odemena, also a business student, rounded out the week with a charge of sexual assault. The 30-year-old made his first court appearance March 5.

While TRU refused to comment on any specific case, dean of students Christine Adam said the university works with authorities when a student is involved in violent crime to make sure any restrictions are abided by. The RCMP has a liaison officer specifically appointed to facilitate communication with schools and universities.

“We’re ensuring safety and we’re ensuring ability to function academically,” Adam said. “So really it’s about understanding the student’s schedule, and if it involves both students, understanding both of their schedules and setting up a clear plan for how they’re going to go about their daily lives.”

According to Duane Seibel, director of Student and Judicial Affairs, communication between TRU and authorities varies from case to case.

“In situations where the alleged victim is also a student, then the communication would be often and there would be follow up,” he said. “If the alleged victim is not a student, less [communication exists].”

While TRU has practices they have developed to deal with students involved with violent crimes, Adam said these practices are not included in any official policy.

Adam also said there is no set way that TRU finds out if a student has been charged with a violent crime. Sometimes it is the student being charged that reports the restrictions placed on him or her so that the university can make accommodations.

The long road to suspension

According to both Seibel and Adam, a criminal charge, including a charge of violent crime, does not automatically prevent a student from continuing studies.

TRU’s Suspension of Students policy says a student may be suspended “for unsatisfactory conduct, for failure to abide by university regulations and/or policies, or for consistent failure to demonstrate adequate effort in the pursuit of educational progress.”

Both Seibel and Adam stressed that only TRU’s president may suspend or expel a student, although Student and Judicial Affairs investigates each case.

Media reports peg international students

Adam would not speak to last week’s media reports, which named two of the three accused as international students, but said there could be many cases where a TRU student appears in court but is not singled out.

“There are a lot of people in this community who may be encountering the legal system who may or not be here [on campus]…I guess I question whether it’s actually relevant,” she said.

She added that TRU’s orientation familiarizes all international students with the Canadian legal system.

“Laws are obviously different from country to country,” she said. “Even just cues about how people are behaving might be culturally specific.”

A legal information seminar is held each semester by Student and Judicial Affairs and TRU’s RCMP liaison officer and is mandatory for new international students. According to Seibel, topics covered include dating, consent, alcohol use, violence and personal safety.