Message from Dan Patterson: New survey empowers student voices on sexual violence

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An important new initiative is on the horizon that builds on our commitment to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for our Niagara College community.

The Student Voices on Sexual Violence Online Survey will give more than 650,000 Ontario students the opportunity to provide feedback on the issue of sexual violence. To be conducted among public college students from March 5 to April 2, the online survey aims to gather quality, consistent data from postsecondary students about their experiences, general attitudes, and beliefs related to unwanted sexual behaviours. While student input from the survey will help inform improvements to supports, services and safety initiatives, the survey is also an educational process to help raise awareness about the issue.

The online survey will include all full-time university undergraduate and public college students, as well as all students attending registered private career colleges and university graduate-level programs eligible for provincial funding in both 2018 (during the first survey cycle) and 2021 (during the second survey cycle).

Niagara College fully endorses this initiative which will provide valuable input from students across the province as we strive to make our campuses free from sexual violence – which includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation.

Our College has introduced new initiatives to assist in preventing and responding to sexual assault in recent years including:

  • In 2015, we joined colleges from across Ontario in the development and roll-out of the stand-alone Sexual Assault Policy. Our practice and protocol is based on a provincial template that was developed in consultation with students and staff across Ontario’s 24 colleges, legal experts, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, government stakeholders and others.
  • That same year, we also launched the successful Consent is Key campaign – an educational initiative that focuses on the importance of understanding that consent is key to preventing sexual assault and sexual violence.
  • In 2016, we took steps to ensure NC employees are equipped with the resources they need to effectively handle the disclosure or discovery of sexual assault. All College employees completed a mandatory sexual assault training program, which was developed in consultation with all Ontario colleges and other stakeholders.
  • In September 2017, we took our powerful Consent is Key campaign to the next level with a new website and video – with our own staff and students – as well as new capabilities through the College’s mobile safety app.

This year, we are committed to continue our efforts by supporting and promoting the launch of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Online Survey. The survey will be conducted by CCI Research, on behalf of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, colleges, private career colleges, and universities in Ontario. College students will receive an email invitation to the survey in March.

I encourage staff and faculty to refer any students who may have questions to the following resources:

Staff and faculty who have questions about the survey are asked to contact student rights and responsibilities officer Hafsah Shaikh at hshaikh@niagaracollege.ca

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