Later this month, students at Brock and all Ontario publicly-funded universities and colleges will be asked to participate in a massive online survey about sexual violence or harassment.
On Monday, Feb. 26, some 650,000 full-time students in 44 post-secondary institutions will receive emails containing a link to the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey that is meant to provide a clearer sense of the prevalence of sexual violence in the province.
This “climate survey” is a government initiative and part of new Ontario legislation that also requires universities and colleges to report on student experiences involving sexual violence. The anonymous survey will inquire about sexual violence supports, services and reporting processes at campuses, as well as perceptions of consent and the experiences of survivors of sexual violence.
Respondents have until March 26 to log in and complete the survey. The government has hired an independent consultant, CCI Research, to conduct the province-wide poll, which will take about 20 minutes to complete. Participants will receive a $5 gift card from the government, not as payment but as a gesture of appreciation for the time spent contributing to the research.
Anna Lathrop, Brock’s Vice-Provost for Teaching, Learning and Student Success, said the University has worked with the Human Rights and Equity (HRE) office, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) in order to encourage all students who receive the survey to respond.
“We are encouraging students who receive the survey to take part, in order to better understand the problem of sexual violence and thereby provide more effective campus response and support,” said Lathrop.
Persons not comfortable doing the survey in an isolated setting will be able to visit a “support room” on campus, where they can participate in the company of colleagues or counsellors, while still having their privacy protected.
These facilities were organized by the GSA and BUSU working with the University’s office of Human Rights and Equity. There will be two support venues available each week during the month-long survey period:
- Tuesdays (Feb. 27, March 6, March 13 and March 20) from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in Mackenzie Chown D302, the Graduate Students meeting space
- Wednesdays (Feb. 28, March 7, March 14 and March 21) from 10 a.m. to noon in the Community Meeting Place, R208 in Decew Residence
BUSU President Faisal Hejazi and GSA President Shannon Kitchings both joined Lathrop in encouraging participation.
Data collected in the survey will be compiled into a provincial report that will seek to identify any gaps in services and reporting processes, while highlighting supports and reporting components that are found to be successful.
“Having information on how students have perceived a process of reporting sexual violence will help with our revisions of the Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy,” said Allison Cadwallader, Brock’s Sexual Violence Support and Education Co-ordinator.
“Based on its anonymous nature, the survey will provide us with important information that may not otherwise be received during consultations with students. It will also help us understand where to better focus our resources and efforts.”