The University of Guelph continues to strengthen its sexual violence programming by revising its existing sexual violence protocol to a more comprehensive policy aimed at supporting all members of the campus community, including faculty, staff and students.
The policy, which was approved by the Board of Governors Dec. 12, includes an expanded definition of sexual violence that incorporates the full spectrum of incidents, ranging from inappropriate comments and harassment through to rape.
“This policy is just one initiative that the sexual violence advisory committee is working on to enhance support of sexual violence programming on campus,” says Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs) and chair of the committee.
Those initiatives include a Sexual Violence Support and Information website, which contains the newly approved policy as well as information about on- and off-campus resources for those who have experienced sexual violence.
“The website provides a wealth of information to community members on how to respond to incidents and support others,” says Whiteside. “We are committed to creating a campus that is respectful and understands consent.”
Promoting consent has been a regular part of U of G’s orientation activities. The “Stop. Ask” campaign was launched in September 2016 to remind students to stop and ask for consent before engaging in sexual activity.
Front-line staff in Counselling Services and Residence Life have been trained on how to deal with sexual violence reports. An online training program will be launched in January for the rest of the campus community. Both training programs include recommendations on how to offer support and refer people to resources.
“We encourage anyone to disclose and to provide support to survivors,” says Whiteside. “Our focus is the safety and support of survivors and their friends.”
Support and resources are available to everyone, regardless of whether they file a formal complaint, she adds. Internal complaints will be handled by Diversity and Human Rights. Unless there’s a safety concern, all disclosures are kept confidential.
Students can share their concerns with Robin Begin, student affairs case director, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 519-824-4120, Ext. 53020.
Bystanders are encouraged to intervene in an unsafe situation, such as if someone is very intoxicated or experiencing a mental health concern. Get help from other bystanders or call the police if you feel that someone poses a threat to themselves or others.
“Look out for your friends,” says Whiteside.