Starting February 2018, Simon Fraser University’s Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office (SVSPO) will have an interim physical space for the university community to access its services.
Back in March 2017, the university implemented its sexual violence and misconduct policy as part of the provincial legislation and later that year, it welcomed CJ Rowe as the SVSPO’s first-ever director as part of its strategic plan to end sexual violence and misconduct across its three campuses.
Rowe, who uses the pronouns they/them/their, stated that this newly opened office will allow the SVSPO to have a physical presence that they have never had before.
“One of the strengths that [I] think [this] office can bring is our ability to meet with [sexual violence] survivors where it’s most comfortable for them to meet,” they said.
Moreover, Rowe explained that there was a delay in the opening of the SVSPO because they wanted to engage in a rigorous hiring process to ensure that there would be an appropriate staff to oversee the office and its operation.
However, Rowe emphasized that although the office didn’t have a physical space, SFU students, faculty, and staff still had access to similar support resources and services before the office opened.
The SVSPO is currently located in the Academic Quadrangle 3045 and it will occupy this space until the end of spring 2018. “Our hope is to move into a [permanent] space on May 1, 2018 and [we hope to make this] announcement in early-to-mid February,” said Rowe.
For students based in SFU Surrey or SFU Vancouver, Rowe noted that they can get in touch with the office via phone or email and the staff will come to them if needed.
As for the services that will be offered, Rowe noted that one of the SVSPO’s key components is to link people who are looking for education and support with services that already exists.
“If a student wants to come and say [this] is what’s happening to me . . . we can be here to listen to them, to hold space for them to share their experience and we will also provide them with links to appropriate support and resources, whether that’s here on campus or off campus or in [their] home community,” said Rowe.
Rowe also emphasized that they see the SVSPO as a hub for the campus community, recognizing that working towards ending sexual violence is something that the entire SFU community needs to be engaged with.
It is important to note that the SVSPO is the sole place on campus where a sexual violence survivor can make a report, according to Rowe. The office can also refer survivors to counselling and medical services, as well as self-care and provide assistance navigating resources.
Rowe emphasized that it takes all of the campus community to equip students, faculty, and staff the ability to support someone when they make a disclosure, to be able to step up to be an active bystander, and to move towards a culture that is centred on consent.
“We as a campus community have a lot of hard work in front of us. And what I’ve noticed in the last three months is there’s a willingness to engage in that hard work. And now that we’re close to having a full staff team, I’m [really looking] forward to digging in,” they concluded.