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Student Voices on Sexual Violence
Last week, the Ontario government released a summary of results from the 2018 Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey, which included responses from over 160,000 post-secondary students, including thousands of responses from University of Waterloo undergraduates. The survey included questions on perceptions of consent, knowledge of sexual violence supports, experiences of sexual violence, and satisfaction with institutional responses to sexual violence.
The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) has been calling on the government to release this data as one of our six top advocacy priorities this year. We thank the government for releasing this data, as it shows the deep and pervasive problems that affect our campuses, but further acknowledge that the resulting numbers of sexual harassment and non-consensual sexual experiences that were disclosed are very troubling. We urge the provincial government to take greater action to end sexual violence on our campuses.
We believe that to build safer campuses, our institutions need both guidance and commitment from the province in addition to policies that prioritize the safety and autonomy of survivors.
The expansion of the Ontario Women’s Campus Safety Grant for our institutions is an excellent start, but we feel there is more that needs to be done, including:
- the expansion of training expectations for university staff and faculty,
- establishing a unit within the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities to work on sexual violence prevention and response,
- and physical and mental health supports for victims of sexual violence.
Here on campus, we are looking forward to seeing institution-specific information from the complete report, and we will continue to work with University administration to ensure that better education, awareness, and supports are available to students. The release of this information is critical to help craft solutions that address the experiences of our undergraduate students.
We have been working with the University on sexual violence prevention by playing active roles on the Policy 42 - Prevention and Response to Sexual Violence committee and Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group. We have called for the implementation of bystander intervention training on campus, and are pleased that some sessions have already been conducted. We look forward to working with the University to bring further, more systemic implementation on campus.
Additionally, we are working to introduce sexual violence prevention training into Orientation programming in order to start education and awareness from the beginning of our students’ university experiences.
We will continue to provide support, education, and awareness through our student-run services like The Women’s Centre, UW MATES, and the Glow Centre for Sexual & Gender Diversity. Supports offered through the University are accessible and available to all students and include Counselling Services, Health Services, UW Police, and the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator. We will also continue to work with University administration to keep sexual violence prevention a top priority on our campus.
If you would like to share your thoughts on how Feds can better support ending the culture of sexual violence at our campuses, please reach out to The Women’s Centre, the Glow Centre for Sexual & Gender Diversity, or President Richard Wu.