Student leaders issue national action plan against sexual violence on campus

It’s been almost a year since multiple sexual assault allegations were reported in Western UniversityOrientation Week 2021 in London, Ont., student leaders across Canada released an action plan for “institutions and governments to address and prevent sexual violence campus.”

10-step plan, titled Our campus, our safety, highlighting various recommendations, including mandatory sexual violence prevention training and education for all students; ensure learning facilities and complaints procedures are available to survivors; and that more campuses follow the province’s “campus climate” survey.

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Recommendations were made by students from 20 post-secondary institutions and national institutions.

“Decades of tireless work by student survivors, leaders, advocates and allies, have brought the issue of sexual violence in postsecondary institutions to the fore. beginning,” opens the introduction to the action plan. “This year alone, we have seen massive student walks at post-secondary institutions and high schools across the country with demands for safer campuses, action plans appropriate, comprehensive independent sexual violence policy and institutional accountability, to raise a number of concerns”.

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Western University established the Action Committee on Gender and Sexuality-Based Violence (ACGBSV) in October 2021, about a month after about 9,000 Western students walked out of class to protest what it called is the “lost culture” on campus.

The mass walk comes after a flurry of allegations were made during Western orientation week where social media posts went viral alleging 30 students had been drugged and sexually assaulted at the residence. Medway-Sydenham Hall on September 10, 2021.

That same night, a freshman was assaulted near Western Road and Sarnia Road, and later died of his injuries in hospital.

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“As a student at Western, I have never been,” said Ziyana Kotadia, vice president of university affairs for the student council of Western University 2021-2022 and a contributor to the national action plan. have really seen anything like it before. “We know that cases of gender-based violence happen every year, but this is the first time that attention has been drawn to this issue.”

In investigating the allegations, London police said no formal complaint had been filed and the investigation was still open.

According to a recent report submitted by Statistics Canada, 71% of students reported witnessing or experiencing unwanted sexual behavior in a post-secondary environment in 2019. Additionally , 1 in 10 women reported being sexually assaulted in a post-secondary institution in the same year. .

Students are most at risk of sexual assault during the first eight weeks of the school year, according to British Columbia’s End Violence Association, and 50% of sexual assaults on campus occur during “The Red Zone” or the first six weeks of school.

Click to play video: 'Western University student walk in the face of sexual abuse allegations'

Western University students take to the stage in front of sexual abuse allegations

Western University students take to the stage before sexual abuse allegations – September 17, 2021

Kotadia says that sexual and gender violence is a “generational issue” and the data supports that.

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“That means this is not only important to deal with, but also yes she said. “We have not seen the changes needed to ensure that campuses are safe places for students.”

According to our Safe Action Plan, our Campus, “sexual violence does not happen in a vacuum”, as Kotadia has emphasized the importance of “addressing the intersections of other forms of systematic oppression”.

“I think it’s important here to make sure we’re using a lens that deals with the social structures and norms that generate gender-based violence (e.g., fundamentalism, discrimination, etc.) sexism, racism, things that create and perpetuate cultures where inequality and violence are normalized,” she said.

“What happened at Western last year shows the urgency that we need post-secondary institutions, provincial and territorial governments, and the federal government to step up and implement recommendations. students, including student leaders’ action plans,” continued Kotadia. “But ultimately, the problem of sexual and gender-based violence in post-secondary schools is much larger than in the West.

“This is a national epidemic.”

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In the action plan, four recommendations are aimed at post-secondary institutions, four are for provincial and territorial governments, and two are aimed at the federal government.

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This violence deeply affects people (and) deeply, and the failure to use their (government) power and privilege to make the changes necessary to keep students safe, said Kotadia. birth, is unacceptable,” said Kotadia.

“We need our decision makers to push and listen to what students have to say.”

Last April, Western’s ACGBSV released two reports after reviewing allegations that called for the University to “comprehensively re-evaluate OWeek’s activities, appointing a special counsel to address the matter.” campus culture and safety, and requires all admitted students to complete gender and sexuality related issues of violence prevention education and awareness training before coming to school. “

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The University Orientation Week will begin on September 5 and will be attended by approximately 8,000 freshmen and approximately 900 leaders.

The Safe Campus Coalition, according to Kotadia, a grassroots student organization that does “work against sexual violence,” is also running an education campaign as well as a community solidarity event to highlight Mark last year’s anniversary and make sure students are aware of the support available.

“This violence is a truly devastating symptom of patriarchy, which is the bricks of campus buildings and paving the roads leading to Congress,” Kotadia said. “There is a lot of work to be done in our institutions, on our system, and we are really pleased to see this dynamic of change on campus. But now is the time to see national action from our federal government and from our local governments. “

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– with files from Global News ‘Shallima Maharaj, Sawyer Bogdan and Andrew Graham

Click to play the video: 'Back to School: Moving to Post-Secondary Education'

Back to School: Transition to post-secondary education

Back to School: Transition to post-secondary education

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