Student survey answers will help inform new approach to preventing and addressing sexual violence on campus
By Sheyanne Bruyere
One year after the provincial government passed Bill 15 – also known as the Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act – Red River College (RRC) is still working to create its own sexual violence policy.
“Our goal is to provide more education, awareness, and supports that will aide [sic] in the prevention of sexual [violence] on-campus,” said Aileen Najduch, RRC’s executive director of community and student services, in an email.
Surveys estimate that between 15 and 25 per cent of female postsecondary students experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their time at school, said the sexual violence policy guide released by the province last year.
Najduch said while RRC has had a low number of reported incidents, they are aware that sexual violence tends to go under-reported.
There are several reasons this happens, said the province’s sexual violence policy guide. Students may feel uncomfortable reporting sexual assault, don’t want to re-live the experience, or simply aren’t sure where to go for support.
Shelby Joss, a business administration student at RRC, said while she has never experienced sexual violence, she wouldn’t know where to go if she did.
“It could be better advertised to students about where they could go for help, whether that’s about sexual violence or any other issues,” said Joss, 23.
Najduch said RRC is collaborating with the Red River College Students’ Association to help raise awareness and analyze students’ perspectives on sexual violence.
RRC recently sent out a prompt on its internal student communication site and on Twitter, encouraging students and followers to fill out a survey and share their opinions on the topic.
Joss said she remembers seeing the survey link, but didn’t feel inclined to fill it out because she was focused on exams.
“It didn’t seem like a top priority for me,” said Joss. “If they would have sent out the survey earlier in the year, I would have filled it out.
Najduch said the responses they received from students will play an important role as RRC continues to develop resources, supports and policies regarding sexual violence. The college is also taking into consideration what other postsecondary institutions are doing when it comes to preventing sexual violence on campus, Najduch said.
While RRC’s policy is still being developed, students are encouraged to visit the college’s counselling services, which are located at D102 at the Notre Dame campus and P210 at the Roblin Centre.