By: Srijani Datta, Assistant News Editor
A new campaign launched by the provincial government aims to address sexual violence and misconduct in post-secondary institutions. The campaign is based largely on social media and via posters which focus on male students while highlighting the message that “sexual violence and misconduct can never be part of student life.”
According to statistics prepared by the government, one in every five women will face sexual violence while attending a post-secondary institution. The new campaign includes all 25 universities and colleges in the province.
“Student life should never include any type of sexualized violence or misconduct,” said advance education minister Melanie Mark to Global News.
“We know that roughly two-thirds of sexual assaults on campus occur during the first eight weeks of school.” – Melanie Mark, advance education minister
On Aug 17, SFU’s Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office (SVSPO) was contacted by Mark announcing the launch of the campaign. The campaign will take effect between August 27 and October 22, covering the first eight weeks of the present school year.
The campaign will involve dissemination of information through posters in student newspapers (including The Peak), around public spaces in campus, and in local bars. Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram are being used as promotional platforms as well.
CJ Rowe, director of SFU SVSPO, told The Peak that, as of September 11, they are still awaiting more material on the campaign from the provincial government. Once they receive the information required, the SVSPO will integrate elements of the campaign with their own support and services and publicize across all three SFU campuses. Additionally, the SVSPO will also begin its own “consent matters” campaign at the end of September, which will complement the government initiative.
Rowe mentioned to The Peak that they appreciated the new campaign efforts of the provincial government as one part of a larger frame of work that is required to tackle the issue. However, Rowe also stated, “When I look at the campaign it appears very student-focussed. But in reality sexual violence impacts us all.
“So my question to the government would be, is the campaign to remain solely student-focussed, or will it in the future recognize the reality of sexual violence on campuses, that is that it impacts all members of the campuses who live, work and study here?”
Information from the campaign has already appeared in The Peak in its September 4 issue.
Currently all universities and colleges in B.C. are legally required to put up policies on sexual assault.
The B.C. government has reportedly changed its policy on campus-based sexualized violence, and has dedicated five years funding of $5.5 million to tackle the issue. The provincial government aims to strengthen the backing for sexual assault crisis centres in post-secondary institutes and lead to a policy framework for the whole country based around the issue.
In a statement on sexual violence prevention and response policies, published in December, Mark had emphasized that “safety and security on post-secondary campuses is an important issue. We cannot be bystanders. Any form of sexual violence or misconduct simply will not be tolerated.”
With files from Global News.