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Student report urges action on sexual violence

Post-secondary student group says educational institutions need to do more to protect students
campus sexual assault
A female student walks along a path at the Simon Fraser University campus.

British Columbia’s educational institutions need to do more to address sexual and gender violence on campus, according to a joint report produced by post-secondary student organizations across the country.

The publication, Shared Perspectives: A Joint Publication on Campus Sexual Violence Prevention and Response, looks at issues of sexual violence on campuses across the country and re-iterates a need for campuses and governments to do more to prevent it. That report found that the implementation of mandated sexualized violence policies vary significantly between institutions across the province.

B.C.’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act came into effect about a year ago, which requires post-secondary institutions to have policies that address sexual violence on campus.

Burnaby’s Simon Fraser University opened the Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office in February, meant to give support and education to students who experience sexual violence and misconduct. Last year, the university created a new sexual violence and misconduct prevention policy, and has instituted training about how to be an “active bystander” for all elected student council members and leaders. That training asks people to intervene when they see an incident of violence.

Martin Wyant, CEO of the Simon Fraser Student Society, said he’s seen more of an interest in developing more substantive responses to people who have been victimized by sexual violence on campus. One program includes getting student leaders to keep an eye on students during pub nights to make sure they’re not taken advantage of. 

So far, Wyant thinks the university is on the right path with their new policies.

“I think they made a significant commitment as an institution, and I think we have to wait and see. I’m really happy to see what they’ve been doing,” he told the NOW

James Foran, marketing manager for the student association at British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby said the student association also trains leaders in how to be an “active bystander.” BCIT also offers counselling services, and consent workshops.

And while the association was not aware of the report and could not comment on it specifically, he says they do everything they can to provide a safe campus for students.

“I think it is something that as a community, all of us have a responsibility to take on both awareness and to provide resources and to provide an environment and safe community for people,” he said.

“There needs to be more awareness across the board. We’re in a position that, as a post-secondary, we have a large community that we can communicate with and I think that BCIT is definitely taking steps in the right direction.”

In the report, the Alliance of B.C. Students recommends the provincial government fund a plan to develop a clear plan and set of procedures, focusing on prevention and education, and integrate it into the existing Bill 23 to better equip institutions with tools to prevent and address violence.

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