A Joint Statement from Possibility Seeds and the Council of Alberta University Students
Students don’t just deserve to be safe on campus – it is their right. The results of the recent province-wide campus climate survey, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Alberta Post-Secondary Education, are gut-wrenching. A key finding was that 50% of post-secondary students in Alberta, of the 13,000 who responded, have been subjected to some form of sexual or gender-based violence. Although these results paint a dire picture, they do not come as a surprise to those engaged in the work to address and prevent sexual and gender-based violence on campuses.
Alberta student leaders have been calling for action on this issue for decades. Just recently in August of 2022, students from Alberta collaborated with other student leaders representing over 1.2 million students from across Canada, to create Our Campus, Our Safety: Student Leaders’ Action Plan for Institutions and Governments to Address and Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus. This call to action asks those in power both institutions and governments to protect students. Students across Alberta believe these actions are necessary to support safe campus communities:
Calls to Action for Provincial and Territorial Governments
Set Provincial Standards for Campus Sexual Violence Data Collection in Collaboration with Key Stakeholders
Create and Strengthen Provincial & Territorial Legislative and Regulatory Frameworks to Address and Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus
Build Provincial/Territorial Advisory Committees on Campus Sexual Violence with Paid Student Representation
Ensure Sustainable Funding for Community Sexual Assault Centres and PSI Sexual Assault Services
Ensure that Addressing Campus Sexual Violence is Prioritized in the Distribution of Funding from the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence
Calls to Action for Institutions
Create and Implement Sustainable Well-Funded Campus-Wide Education Plans
Apply Trauma-Informed Practices, Procedural Fairness and Harm Reduction Principles to All Sexual Violence Complaints Processes
Ensure Accessible Academic Accommodations/Considerations for People Affected by Sexual Violence
Center Survivor Voices in Institutional Policy Making in Meaningful Ways
We are calling on the Government of Alberta to act now to address these important calls to action by students. The collection of data at the provincial level provides us with a sense of the problem’s scope, but additional work is required to address it. Commitment to conducting such surveys at regular, mandated intervals will provide consistent data and a way to track provincial progress. Alberta must take action to support a consistently safe student experience no matter where students choose to learn.
We are also calling on institutions within Alberta to address these calls to action within their unique campus contexts. Everyone is negatively impacted by the crisis of sexual and gender-based violence on campus, and addressing this issue will require commitment from all stakeholders. The swift action of Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Advanced Education Rajan Sawhney, as well as post-secondary administrators, is required to ensure that students are safe on Alberta campuses. The data reveals many findings, but they all point to one conclusion: Alberta must act now to protect students and young people.
Suggested Reference: Possibility Seeds. (2023, September). Alberta Must Act Now to Protect Students: A Joint Statement from the Council of Alberta University Students and Possibility Seeds. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/open-letter.