Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, the Honourable Labi Kousoulis, today released the findings and draft recommendations of the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, a multi-stakeholder group tasked with examining ways to reduce sexual violence on university and college campuses and better protect students. Acadia joins its colleagues on the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents (CONSUP) by enthusiastically endorsing the recommendations and is committed to continuing with its own work to educate students, staff, faculty and administration, and to broaden support systems for survivors of sexual violence already in place.
“The comprehensiveness of the report and its recommendations demonstrates the seriousness of the issue of sexual violence on our campuses and in our communities,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, President and Vice Chancellor of Acadia. “The report’s emphasis upon prevention and changing the culture of acceptance is especially important. We will work closely with our CONSUP partners as well as officials in the Departments of Labour and Advanced Education, Community Services, and Health and Wellness to implement the recommendations and learn from best practices. We need to transform the conversations we have within society about sexual violence and how we support its survivors, and we need to see our university campus communities as the catalysts for this change.”
Acadia created its Sexual Health Working Group in 2015 to take the lead on providing a coordinated, cohesive, and systematic approach to achieving progress on issues related to sexual health and the elimination of sexual violence on campus. The group, comprised of faculty, staff and students, acts as Acadia’s sexual violence prevention committee fulfilling Recommendation 10 of today’s report. The group is reviewing data from the Fall 2016 consent/coercion survey project to support education and awareness initiatives as well as direct programming focused on consent, which responds to Recommendation 5, and is currently drafting a stand-alone sexual violence policy (Recommendation 9) which will augment existing campus policies.
Acadia is also part of the Nova Scotia Bystander Intervention Program Provincial Committee being led by the Antigonish Women’s Centre (Recommendation 3) and will continue its role as a leader in alcohol arms reduction efforts at the campus, regional, provincial, and national level (Recommendation 4).
“This report provides a coordinated first step in tackling sexual violence at post-secondary institutions in our province,” said Grace Hamilton-Burge, President of the Acadia Students’ Union. “The survivor based approach and diverse content of the report clearly demonstrates the work and consultation that went into its creation. From this initial step, it is vital that clear benchmarks are established for our institution and measurements are communicated. This will hold stakeholders to account and ensure proper resources and supports are implemented that are necessary for our success in shifting the culture on our campuses."
“Sexual violence is unacceptable and we know it’s preventable,” said Ricketts. “Our faculty, staff, and particularly our students are fully engaged in the important work of creating a campus where everyone feels safe, has the confidence to report any incidents, and is committed to eliminating every form of sexual violence. This report will greatly help us in those efforts and will ensure that we continue to strengthen and improve our policies, procedures, and practices”
To read the full report please follow this link http://novascotia.ca/lae/pubs.