BY IAN MCBRIDE
When women attend post-secondary institutions, most people would think they would be safe while on campus, or at least have policies in place to help protect them from sexual predators, and provide support for victims of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, a recent investigation conducted by the Toronto Star found that only nine of 78 universities across the country had a special sexual assault policy, and none of Ontario’s 24 public colleges had one in place.
However, since that investigation was done, a sexual assault policy was drafted by the colleges.
According to a Dec. 23 article in the Toronto Star, “The presidents of 24 public colleges have voted to endorse a uniform policy that provides a clear path for victims of sexual violence and clearly outlines a school’s responsibility.”
They will spend the next two months consulting with local groups before finalizing policies at each school.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne recently toured colleges and universities in Ontario, and the prevention of sexual violence on campuses was one of the main concerns she heard from student groups.
According to the Star article she told them, “At a very minimum I can say to you that I will expect that universities and colleges will involve their student body in a very meaningful way in the development of policies around sexual assault and sexual violence. I can hardly believe that we are still having this conversation and that there would still be students in this province who say we need to have these policies on our campuses and we need the university administration or the college administration to involve us in the policies.”
There should be greater awareness at colleges and protocols need to be established for responding to cases of sexual assault and violence. We need to protect the privacy of people who have witnessed a sexual assault or have learned about a sexual assault. Victims throughout the province should have immediate access to 24-hour emergency hotline services.
We as Canadians should band together to provide support to victims of sexual assault, and also try to put an end to sexual violence, including on post-secondary campuses, by looking out for one another and being vocal about this particular issue.
These steps are necessary to ensure the safety of women at Canadian post-secondary institutions.
The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.