Education around sexual violence on campus has taken significant steps forward

When first-year students arrive on the Brock University campus to start classes each fall, one of the earliest pieces of education is around consent. From the awareness building and sex talks offered to students in residence during Welcome Week, the education continues with information sharing and awareness around widely celebrated events such as Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s all part of Brock’s enhanced education around consent and sexual violence prevention that can now be seen in activities throughout the year.

In the two years since all full-time students at publicly-funded universities and colleges in Ontario were surveyed about sexual violence or harassment, Brock has taken significant steps forward to improve education and awareness around an important issue.

The data from the 2018 Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey is now fully available online on the Council of Ontario Universities website.

“I think Brock has made incredible strides forward on this really difficult topic,” said Leela MadhavaRau, who was hired as Brock’s first Director of Human Rights and Equity (HRE) in September 2018. “As we reach into more parts of campus and we reach more individuals, we’re trying to reach people at the beginning of their university careers so they’re hearing the messages numerous times.”

There are now more than 60 programs, initiatives and events at Brock around sexual violence education and support.

They range from sexual violence support programs, ongoing recruitment and training of volunteers, a Sexual Violence Certificate program that has been earned by more than 267 students, faculty and staff, formal training for nearly 700 people on campus, specific programming for various marginalized groups on-campus, a survivor support group, significantly expanded counselling services, specialized training for student-athletes, programming for male-identified individuals around masculinity, and a wide variety of other new education-oriented programs and events. Starting in Fall 2020, there will be educational pieces for all athletics teams, sport and interest clubs as well as within classrooms.

“I think our efforts in that regard in the last 18 months have been really strong, and we have lots more ideas of places we can go to keep up our efforts,” MadhavaRau said. “I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to say we’ve reached a zero point on this, unfortunately, because it’s an epidemic, but we do our best to keep it under control.”

One of the newest initiatives about to get under way from HRE is an anonymous survey of the living, learning and working environment at Brock. The assessment runs from March 3 to April 3 and is being conducted by Rankin and Associates, an independent organization that has run similar surveys at post-secondary institutions across the country. This survey will contain a section on the University’s response to sexual violence, providing an updated snapshot of responses to the new programming through Sexual Violence Education and Support.

“The idea of it initially came through thinking about Human Rights and Equity and our participation in the University’s Strategic Plan,” MadhavaRau said. “How do we transform Brock without having an idea of where we are now and what that transformation should look like?”

After the data is collected and analyzed, Rankin and Associates will provide a report with recommendations for Brock in the fall.

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