The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training has launched a campaign to prevent sexualized violence and misconduct around post-secondary campuses. (iStock photo)

Royal Roads University resources help prevent sexual assault on campus

University receives big response from students advocating against sexual assault

Royal Roads University (RRU) has been building new online resources to help prevent sexual violence and misconduct on campus, and provide training on how to deal with it should an incident occur.

Melanie Mark, minister of advanced education, skills and training, recently announced the launch of a campaign to provide education and help for students on sexual violence and misconduct. According to ministry statistics, roughly two-thirds of sexual assaults on campuses happen during the first eight weeks of school.

“It’s critical that we send a strong message,” Mark said in a statement. “We want students to feel safe, and to know that any type of sexualized violence or misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Roberta Mason, Royal Roads associate vice president, student and academic services, said RRU has been working on the modules with the Research Universities’ Council of B.C. for over a year.

Through the universities’ council, Royal Roads has created modules for different topics about sexual violence and misconduct, including animated scenarios built for each model that the university will have ready for students and faculty once the platform is complete. Mason said the important pieces are prevention and response – educating students on how to prevent sexual violence from occurring and if it does, how to communicate it.

“It’s unfortunate in 2018 that this is a problem we still face,” Mason said. “I recognize it’s a societal problem and this initiative is critical to find ways for people to get the help when they need it.”

The modules will walk students through step-by-step, including specific language. For example, the difference between disclosure and reporting of a sexual assault. A 24-hour response team number is also included.

“We take this very seriously,” Mason said. “We’ve taken a huge language approach in the protocol document.”

RRU is not a traditional post-secondary institution in that there’s not an influx of students to campus at once. Instead it has a staggered undergraduate student intake. Cohorts of 30 to 50 students filter in, beginning in mid-August through to late-October and orientation for smaller groups is more personal than thousands of students starting on the same day.

Mason said when RRU created its draft policy for sexual assault and misconduct it was emailed to all 3,000 students at the university to give them the option of providing feedback. The response they received showed students are engaged on the topic.

RRU doesn’t have a graduate student society, but the school had nearly 30 grad students come forward wanting to represent the group on the issue. She noted that they invite students and faculty to come forward at any time with suggestions or concerns about the issue.

The online resources are expected to be available to students and faculty this fall.

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