As a new semester starts at post-secondary institutions, government is working to support students in creating safe, inclusive and welcoming spaces for them.
“I know how important it is for students to participate in school and campus life without worrying about their safety, whether in class, working or studying, or at a social gathering,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We’re continuing to work with students, faculty, staff and the many student associations and groups, to fund and support a range of initiatives to raise awareness, prevent and respond to sexualized violence.”
The federal government is providing $500,000 to further address sexualized violence at B.C. post-secondary institutions. This funding will improve and expand the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Training Series to address gaps when it comes to the safety of students, specifically Indigenous students, graduate students and international students, and sexualized violence through digital communications.
“Working with provinces and territories like British Columbia is one of many ways we’re making sure we prevent and end gender-based violence,” said Marci Ien, federal Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth. “Our government will continue addressing and preventing gender-based violence through projects like this one, but also by working toward the development of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence with our partners. Increasing education, investing in community outreach and changing policies are essential steps to creating real change.”
These new specialized training resources will support systemic change in addressing sexualized violence at post-secondary institutions and will support students, faculty and staff to prevent and respond to sexualized violence. These resources are being developed with the post-secondary sector and will be available at all institutions by summer 2024.
The Province also recently provided additional funding of $500,000 to public post-secondary institutions to support and enhance sexualized violence reporting systems. This funding will help each institution implement new or enhance existing services that are trauma-informed, survivor-centric, and easily accessible to students.
“We know that rates of sexualized violence are most prominent among post-secondary-aged students,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Consent is the law – consent must be voluntarily and ongoing – and it can be taken away at any time. We all have a responsibility to prevent sexualized violence and we are continuing to work with post-secondary institutions, students and communities to create awareness and to foster a culture of safety for everyone.”
Over the past year, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training has been leading a comprehensive review of all public post-secondary institution policies on sexualized violence, with the aim to identify areas to improve and strengthen these policies across the sector. The ministry has also been engaging with First Nations, Métis, Indigenous organizations, community organizations, student societies, sector associations, staff and faculty unions, and subject matter experts over the summer on the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act to ensure it continues to serve post-secondary communities well. Students will have the opportunity to participate in consultation focus groups this fall.
“Working collaboratively with the Province has helped B.C. post-secondary institutions, like SFU, build stronger collaborative relationships with university colleagues, community-based services, student advocates and subject matter experts,” said CJ Rowe, director, Simon Fraser University, Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office. “Together, we are working to enhance our approaches to response, support and education geared to address the unique university and college populations of students, staff and faculty that we serve.”
Preventing sexualized violence on campus is one part of a multi-year action plan to help end gender-based violence being developed by the Ministry of Finance's Gender Equity Office and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Government undertook focused engagement in 2022 to inform the plan’s ongoing development.
To find out more about post-secondary sexualized violence policies, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safe-campuses-bc/help-on-campus
To find out more about the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act, visit: https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/16023_01
To find out more about BCcampus's sexualized violence prevention training resources, visit: https://bccampus.ca/projects/wellness/preventing-sexual-violence/
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexualized violence, contact VictimLinkBC, a toll-free, confidential, multilingual service available across B.C. and the Yukon 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling or texting 1-800-563-0808 or sending an email to VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca
You can also call your local police or 911.
You can also access the Victim Services and Violence Against Women Program Directory to find resources available to you, your peers, family and community: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-a-victim-of-a-crime/victim-of-crime/victim-services-directory
A backgrounder follows.