Written by : Chloe Kemeni and Ziyana Kotadia
From coast to coast, students have been at the forefront of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts on Canadian post-secondary campuses. Our activism and advocacy have brought sexual violence on campus to the forefront of national conversations, and our voices remain vital to the project of dismantling the systems that produce gender-based violence.
On June 15th, 2022, Possibility Seeds’ Courage to Act project hosted a student-facilitated roundtable with student union leaders from across the country, representing 1.2 million Canadian students, to discuss the next steps for advancing sexual violence prevention and response work. Our conversation led to the creation of Our Campus, Our Safety: Students Leaders’ Action Plan for Institutions & Governments to Address & Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus (available in both English and French). This Action Plan combines the ideas and recommendations of Canada’s student leaders into a comprehensive ten-point plan for PSIs, the federal government, and provincial and territorial governments.
Students’ unique insights into post-secondary cultures and our lived experiences navigating the sexual violence policies and strategies put forward by PSIs position us to offer meaningful solutions. Until we effectively value students’ voices in the project of eliminating gender-based violence on campus, this violence and inequity will continue to be a feature of the student experience at PSIs. This Plan is our call to action, our articulation of what needs to be done differently to ensure our campuses become safer and more equitable spaces. We need PSIs and governments to implement Our Campus, Our Safety calls to action now to address the epidemic of sexual violence on campuses.
Calls to Actions for Post-Secondary 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 complaint processes
Ensure accessible academic accommodations/considerations for people affected by sexual violence
Centre survivor voices in institutional policy making in meaningful ways
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
Calls to Action for the Federal Government
Set a national standard for how PSIs should address, prevent and respond to sexual violence on campus
Ensure that addressing campus sexual violence is prioritized in the National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence
Our Campus, Our Safety provides a strong starting point for PSIs, the federal government, and provincial and territorial governments to take effective action to address and prevent sexual violence at our post-secondary institutions. It is a call to action, and an important reminder that we must center student voices, experience and expertise as we strategize about new policies, protocols and possibilities for safer campuses. Sexual violence does not need to be a part of the student experience. Working together, change is possible.
Suggested Reference : Kemeni, Chloe and Kotadia, Ziyana. (2022, August). Our Campus, Our Safety: Student Leaders’ Action Plan for Institutions & Governments to Address & Prevent Sexual Violence on Campus. Courage to Act. www.couragetoact.ca/blog/student-leaders