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Canada Province needs to address sexual violence on post-secondary campuses: Council of Alberta University Students

15:45  10 february  2020
15:45  10 february  2020 Source:   edmontonjournal.com

Province needs to address sexual violence on post-secondary campuses: Council of Alberta University Students

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Sexual violence is a complex and serious problem in society and on university campuses . The following information serves as a resource for the University community to better understand sexual violence on campus and the supports available to both individuals who have experienced sexual

The committee, which included student and university groups, consulted with over 300 gender-based violence prevention educators and issued a report. Student groups welcomed the effort but said those promises should be backed up by the resources and oversight needed to make them work.

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The association representing more than 100,000 university students in Alberta is calling on the provincial government to take more action on campus sexual violence by enforcing standard policies and procedures for all institutions to follow.

Five recommendations for the provincial government were outlined by the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) in a 66-page research paper published Monday morning exploring sexual violence on campuses across Alberta.

“Our ultimate goal is to bring this out to the public sphere and get the conversation started and really be able to start discussing with the government how we can create a comprehensive solution for campus sexual violence,” CAUS chair Sadiya Nazir told Postmedia in an interview Saturday ahead of the paper’s release. “This is a prevalent issue. It’s not being discussed in a way to bring it to the forefront of our institutions’ goals and their actions.”

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1:52 Calgary post - secondary institutions work to address sexual violence on campus . In Alberta , that number sits much higher at 58 per cent. Carla Bertsch, a sexual violence support advocate for Gordon said the student ’s union is also working to host some of its own student -led sexual violence

The sexual violence prevention committee is made up of representatives from the provincial government, universities , student groups and community agencies. Its recommendations follow up on the province ’s first report on addressing sexual violence , called Breaking the Silence, released in

A first necessary step is for the province to enact legislation specific to sexual violence policies on campus, with Alberta being one of five provinces without, Nazir said.

“For Alberta, what we want is a sexual violence policy to include procedures around reporting and disclosure and to have these policies be standard across the province,” she said.

The province does have a strategy to address sexual violence with associated funding, but it isn’t specific to campuses.

“Educational campaigns and funding for programs open to the general public are not always adequate to address the specific circumstances and realities of a post-secondary institution,” the research paper argues.

Alberta students are calling on the UCP government to invest in educational campaigns and support services on campus and to fund training specifically focused on sexual violence prevention. CAUS is also calling on funding for online-based training to educate staff and faculty on responding to sexual violence disclosures.

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Deborah Eerkes is the Director of Student Conduct and Accountability at the University of Alberta , and is one of She is a member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded partnership project “IMPACTS: Collaborations to Address Sexual Violence on Campus ”.

+ TORONTO – Students at post - secondary institutions across Ontario are taking part in a survey on sexual violence as part of the province ’s efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment on campus .

“There’s this gap where students may be afraid or hesitant to come forward and find supports because they probably aren’t aware their cases will be taken seriously,” Nazir said. “Most of these incidences are going unreported.”

A study cited in the paper found less than 10 per cent of sexual assault reports on campus go unproven and Nazir said misconceptions around how many reports are believed has made victims hesitant to come forward.

The most recent data cited in the research paper dating back to 2014 found 83 per cent of sexual assaults aren’t reported to the police. Of the 636,000 cases of self-reported sexual assaults, 87 per cent were committed against women, and 47 per cent of them involved women between the ages of 15-24.

With limited statistics on the prevalence of the issue, the group is also calling on the province to take the helm of tracking campus sexual violence through an annual student survey at each school.

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Students at Manitoba’s post - secondary institutions will benefit from new requirements for their schools in regards to sexual violence , Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart and Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for the status of women, announced today.

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“We really don’t have a lot of institutional data and what we hope is that the government can also be a part of the creation of a campus climate survey, where institutions are required to survey students and gain a sense of the prevalency,” Nazir said.

Nazir said the recommendations have already been presented to the province’s Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides and Leela Aheer, minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women.

“They expressed interest in addressing this issue as we’ve presented and so holding them accountable to their promise will be our priority,” she said.

a man looking at the camera:  Sadiya Nazar chair of the Council of Alberta University Students. Postmedia, File Sadiya Nazar chair of the Council of Alberta University Students. Postmedia, File

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