Western is undertaking a review of its sexual violence policy with rounds of student consultations to begin this week, to go along with a survey released earlier this month.
Undergraduate feedback was solicited on Tuesday in the community room of the UCC from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Graduate students are invited for consultations in the University Students’ Council chambers on Thursday, Sept. 29 at noon.
Post-secondary institutions across the province are currently in the process of drafting sexual violence policies after the Ontario government mandated them through Bill 132 on March 2016. Sexual violence prevention education coordinator Angela Treglia noted Western had a policy before the legislation required one.
“Western was one of the only schools to have a sexual violence policy before it was mandated by the government. So our policy came into effect in 2014,” she said. “I think Western can be very proud that we had a policy in place before the mandate from the government.”
USC vice-president Jamie Cleary highlighted the importance of reporting accurate numbers, something now required by the new legislation.
“We need to see what’s happening on our campus. We have a lot of prevention programming and bystander intervention training but do we really know if that’s working? And how can we fix those problems if we not seeing adequate data of reporting numbers?” he asked.
While Treglia said she had no problems with the raw number of incidents being reported, she cautioned that the numbers aren’t currently centralized. They're divided by departments such as equity and human rights services and Campus Police. These numbers can not be as reflective of campus’ attitudes towards sexual violence.
“What I would worry about that there’s this societal perception that the higher the numbers are, the more of an issue sexual violence is on that particular campus but what we actually know is that higher numbers means that people are comfortable coming forward and reporting to that institution,” Treglia said.
Cleary noted that the new policy should remain committed to survivors.
“It’s important that we’re remaining a survivor-centered approach and that we’re supporting the survivors and what they want,” he said.
Treglia echoed his sentiments, hoping the new policy would be more beneficial for those who have experienced sexual violence.
“I hope that it acts as a roadmap for them [survivors] so that they feel like they have control over the process and that something is not taken out of their control. So that they’re able to read that policy beforehand and make a decision that works best for them,” Treglia said.
The survey about the new sexual violence policy closes Sept. 31 and Western’s new policy should be in place by the beginning of the new year.