RRCSA drafts sexual assault policy recommendations
Courtney Bannatyne, BEAT REPORTER
The Red River College Students’ Association doesn’t have policies regarding sexual assault on campus, but that may change now that it’s part of a national conversation.
RRC has no reports of sexual assault during the past six years, according to Adam Taplin, the RRCSA president.
Taplin said since there haven’t been cases of reported sexual assault, the SA hasn’t formed a policy on the issue. He said because the issue is now a conversation among student associations across Canada, the RRC- SA is working harder to put something in place.
Leanne Frejuk, a graphic design student at RRC, said she thinks sexual assault could still be happening even if nobody is reporting it.
“I don’t agree that if it’s not reported, then it doesn’t happen,” said Frejuk, 23.
She said people might not know how to report sexual assault or who to speak with.
“If I was to take it to administration or something, then it would probably be to the coordinator of my course,
and I think that’s probably as far as I’d go,” said Frejuk. “Because we don’t really talk to or come in contact much with anyone other than our instructors in our program.”
Frejuk suggested an awareness campaign with posters would be helpful for students so they would know how to report sexual assault on campus.
“I think it’s a pretty serious topic right now,” she said, “but people might not be aware of how to report.”
The RRCSA and Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) have come together to develop a draft of policy recommendations to prevent sexual violence on campus, said Calvary deJong, the RRCSA vice-president external.
According to deJong, the provincial government is reviewing the recommendations while it is deciding on its own Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act bill, which was presented in October.
“We are pleased that [the provincial government has] included student representatives in the development of this bill, and we hope to see some of our recommendations included in the final bill when it is passed,” deJong wrote in an email.
The recommendations from the RRCSA suggest every campus in Manitoba should have a stand-alone sexual assault, violence and harassment policy and procedure.
“Although institutions are concerned about their reputations, the safety and well-being of the student body must remain a higher priority,” the CASA policy manual states regarding the draft recommendations.
The manual notes there is a lack of action by post-secondary institutions in Canada dealing with this issue.
“On campuses, 15 to 25 per cent of university women will be victimized by sexual assault, but the percentage of reported incidents are very low or virtually zero,” the manual states. “This suggests a major issue of underreporting.”
Taplin said the college needs to put more steps in place so students know how to report cases of sexual assault.
“There has been no reported incidents at the college — okay that’s great,” he said. “Problem is, does anyone even actually know who to report to?
“These are the types of things that need to be made clear and made aware to students so they can feel safe coming forward with the issue.”
Taplin said he hopes the bill will pass soon so the college can start implementing reporting policies.