Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Yukon College has adopted a new sexualized violence prevention and response policy.
The new policy and response procedures provide a clear pathway for the disclosure, reporting and investigation of sexualized violence, the institution said in a statement.
It also commits the college to taking a “trauma-informed and co-ordinated approach in responding to and addressing disclosures,” the college said.
The new policy will see the college co-ordinate ongoing education and prevention efforts to counter rape culture, promote a culture of informed consent and reduce the risk of incidences of sexualized violence.
Along with the policy is a list of community supports available to anyone who may have experienced sexual violence.
“We must do much more to educate the college community about informed consent and promote a culture of safety,” said Colleen Wirth, the director of Student and Infrastructure Support.
“National statistics indicate that 20 per cent of female students experience sexualized violence while in post-secondary education, which would translate to approximately 145 female Yukon College students.”
“Incidents of sexualized violence in our society too often go undisclosed and unreported,” added Michael Hale, the college’s chief administrative officer.
“Our goal is to reduce barriers for anyone in the college community disclosing or reporting an incident of sexualized violence.
“As well as support the individual in their own decision-making process—if and how they might choose to disclose, and which supports they may choose to access or external processes they may choose to pursue.”
Over the past three years, the college said, it has followed the national conversation around this issue closely.
Staff have learned from institutions cited as having developed best practices, and have reached out to students, employees, the RCMP and community organizations for feedback on multiple policy drafts.
“In this instance, the policy development process has taken longer than expected,” said said Wirth.
“This is a complex issue, and in recent years, the conversation around how our society and post-secondary institutions address and respond to sexualized violence has been dynamic and evolving.
“We have learned a lot and have incorporated our research into this new policy,” added Wirth.
“What we know from survivor stories is that how well we handle this challenging process is a major factor in whether the student can continue their education and successfully achieve their life goals,” said Wally Rude, the registrar and dean of Enrolment Services.
The college is rolling out a comprehensive plan to educate and inform students and employees about sexualized violence, consent, and college-specific and community supports.
The plan includes consent workshops for students this month. Those sessions have been part of orientation activities at Ayamdigut campus since 2014.
As well, the college has purchased Bringing in the Bystander training and will hold workshops for staff and students this term.
This policy is a living document. The policy, procedures and support information will be reviewed after a year and updated if necessary, based upon feedback received from students, employees and the wider community, as well as evolving best practices across Canadian post-secondary institutions.
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