The university voiced a strong message about supporting survivors of sexual violence and building a culture of consent on campus at an event in Convocation Mall last Friday.

The event called It Takes All Of Us featured various organizations providing opportunities to learn about support around sexual violence intervention and prevention.

“It does truly take all of us to change the culture to one of care and consent and support,” said CJ Rowe, the new director of the Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office that will provide prevention and support programs when it opens.

“This work is critical in building a supportive campus,” Rowe added.

The Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office was originally scheduled to open at the start of the fall semester, but was delayed as the university waited for the hiring of the director. The university introduced its sexual violence and misconduct policy earlier this year ahead of provincial legislation coming into effect that required all post-secondary institutions to have a policy in place.

“I think we can bring a good policy to life and make it even better and create that culture of inclusion,” said SFU President Andrew Petter in an address to those who attended the awareness event. “It does take all of us to turn a policy into reality.”

The event was organized by the Active Bystander Network, a student group working on behalf of the university to increase student understanding of sexual violence prevention.  

“We’re encouraging folks to engage with sharing their stories,” said Kaitlyn Woodman who volunteers for the network.

A gallery featuring the stories of sexual violence survivors who are part of the campus community was set up in Convocation Mall with counsellors available to provide support for those witnessing it.

There were other booths and activities available to promote a change of culture on campus around sexual violence.

“Having all these people here shows that everybody wants to be invested in having this conversation,” said Charis Lippett, who works in the interim sexual violence support and prevention office.

Rebecca Langmead who leads sexual violence education and prevention efforts on campus added that the event also connected people with resources available to them. “This is an event that we may not have been able to have two and a half years ago because we didn’t have a [sexual violence] policy,” she noted.  

The event also held a lot of importance to those who helped facilitate it.

“To me it is about resistance, it is about courage,” added Lippett. “It makes me feel like my identity and my story as a survivor is important.”

With files from Alex Bloom and Simran Randhawa.