The Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act announced on October 12
Dallas Jansen, CONTRIBUTOR
Students at Red River College may soon have a new set of policies regarding sexual violence on campus.
On Oct. 12, the Manitoba government announced Bill 15, the Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act. The Progressive Conservative Party proposed the bill.
If the bill passes, then it will require post-secondary schools in Manitoba to follow similar policies. These policies would require institutions to raise awareness around sexual violence and communicate the availability of services and supports on campus. Schools will also publicly report activities under the policy.
“RRC knows that an effective policy will help create an environment where everyone on campus will know that sexual assault is unacceptable, that those impacted will receive the services they need and that offenders will be held accountable,” Laureen Janzen, RRC’s counselling and disability services manager, wrote in an email.
In June, the NDP proposed a bill regarding sexual violence on campus. According to Ian Wishart, the minister of education and training, the bill was denied because it didn’t cover private institutions like Robertson College. It also didn’t have a section about dealing with social media problems.
“The bill (Bill 15) is a strong bill, said Wishart. “Actually if you look across Canada it’s probably as good as any that you could find.”
Wishart said if the bill passes, then the policies will be put in place by next fall.
“We want to get the message out there that no means no,” he said. “We hope that it is going to help make students safer on the campuses.”
In Canada, there were almost 21,500 police-reported sexual assaults in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. This number is an underestimate of the true number of sexual assault incidents in Canada. Statistics Canada reported only 5 per cent of sexual assaults on people 15 years of age or older were reported to police in 2014.
RRC currently has a zero tolerance policy for any kind of harassment.
“We (the students’ association) are quite pleased with the new bill,” said Adam Taplin, RRCSA president. “This is something that’s been in progress for a long time.”
Taplin said he hopes the new policies will encourage students to come forward if they do experience sexual assault on campus.