Feb. 27, 2020Print | PDF
Wilfrid Laurier University welcomes the results of the provincial survey, Student Voices on Sexual Violence, released Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. It is especially meaningful research because it comes directly from students. The findings will help in Laurier’s continued commitment to improve supports and raise awareness around sexual violence.
Student Voices was commissioned in 2018 by the Ontario government as part of a larger plan to address sexual violence in workplaces and on campuses. The results and insights are presented in two reports, which were recently shared with Ontario’s universities. They reflect the answers of more than 160,000 students from universities, colleges and public career colleges across the province.
Laurier condemns sexual violence and takes the needs of survivors seriously. We are deeply thankful to the students who participated in the anonymous, voluntary questionnaire distributed in 2018. In all, 4,797 Laurier students shared personal and, in some cases, very difficult experiences.
Sexual violence is a pervasive, societal problem and the survey responses show this issue extends to university campuses as well. Twenty-three per cent of university students responding to the survey report a non-consensual sexual experience.
Any incident of sexual violence is unacceptable. It is clear that more needs to be done at Ontario post-secondary institutions. As a next step, Laurier and other universities will use this valuable information to continue to improve our initiatives, policies and research in our ongoing efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence. These results serve as an important stepping stone toward continuing to make our students feel as safe, secure and supported as possible.
Laurier has been advocating for a province-wide survey of post-secondary students since the conclusion in 2012 of The Change Project, a Laurier-based research initiative aimed at ending gendered violence on campus. The Change Project produced a report with 10 recommendations, including a broad survey that would capture the current state of affairs on university campuses.
Before the Ontario government commissioned Student Voices, Laurier conducted its own university-wide surveys in 2014, ’15 and ’16. Data collected through these surveys helped create and strengthen a number of support and awareness initiatives introduced at our university over the last few years.
Laurier’s Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy and Procedures were first approved in November 2016. They are continually under review as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to improve and strengthen our policies and processes.
Two staff positions dedicated to prevention and support were introduced at Laurier. The Sexual Violence Response Coordinator and a Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist work in partnership with community sexual assault centres in Waterloo Region and Brant County to make counselling and educational programming available on campus.
Between September 2018 and April 2019, training related to gendered and sexual violence was provided to 7,620 members of the Laurier community.
A made-at-Laurier pilot program began in October 2019 to offer bystander training to dispel rape myths, increase awareness of resources, and prepare individuals to effectively intervene.
All student leaders — including residence dons, Orientation Week icebreakers, and student leaders in athletics, hospitality and the student union — now receive disclosure training. In addition, all first-year students receive a presentation during Orientation Week to learn about the role of the Sexual Violence Resource Coordinator and how to access support.
Laurier remains committed to fostering a culture of consent where gendered and sexual violence is unacceptable and where survivors are believed and supported with compassion, dignity and respect. We will continue our education, training and awareness initiatives and will look at our existing programs in light of the Student Voices data to make necessary updates.
A more thorough summary of the results has been posted to the Council of Ontario Universities website as have two reports from the Ministry containing all of the survey responses. We thank the provincial government and the students who participated in this important survey. Their participation has provided a very helpful view of the experiences of students across the province.
Through partnerships with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant, sexual violence counselling is available during regular university hours on campus in both Waterloo and Brantford. Students can also access their 24/7 support and crisis lines.