TORONTO, ON -
Content Warning: this press release contains upsetting subject matter regarding sexual violence.
Today, the full results from the 2018 Student Voices on Sexual Violence (SVSV) survey were released, including responses from over 160,000 post-secondary students — 117,000 of whom were university students. The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) led a call-to-action for the province to conduct a climate survey to collect accurate and standardized data about student experiences with institutional responses to sexual violence. Since the survey was completed, OUSA has advocated for the public release of the full survey dataset to support informed, evidence-based recommendations. OUSA is hopeful that the provincial government recognizes the severity of this issue and will use this opportunity to invest significantly in gender-based violence prevention and response at post-secondary campuses across Ontario.
“Robust evidence-based prevention efforts have to begin with data,” said Catherine Dunne, President of OUSA and Steering Committee member for the University Students’ Council at Western University. “It is essential that with the release of this data, we use this as a foundation to collect more information and conduct more research in the following years to ensure our efforts are headed in the right direction.”
Gender-based and sexual violence prevention and response remains a top priority for OUSA. Our members are concerned about the extremely high prevalence of students experiencing sexual violence - 23 percent of students had experienced sexual assault since the beginning of the academic term when the survey took place and 37.4 percent of students had experienced sexual assault throughout their lifetime.
"This data speaks to what students have been saying for decades - gender-based and sexual violence is a staggering problem across our institutions,” said Dunne. “The government and post-secondary institutions must use the full release of this data as a catalyst to significantly invest in targeted efforts for gender-based violence prevention and survivor support."
Access to this data is important to inform prevention and response efforts and ensure that these efforts prioritize the needs of students on campuses across the province. The fact that we continue to see alarming rates of sexual assault makes it clear that current prevention efforts are falling short and OUSA, therefore, asks the government to increase funding and adapt the Terms and Conditions for the Women’s Campus Safety Grant so that students have access to sexual violence education, bystander intervention training and other evidence-based prevention tools.
It is additionally concerning that almost half (47.7 percent) of all students did not receive any information on how to access academic accommodations or support services; how to make a formal report; or how to engage in prevention of gender-based and sexual violence. Consequently, OUSA is calling on the government to amend Ontario Regulation 131/16 to require all aspects of a survivor-centric sexual violence policy be included, and make clear which government agency is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance.
OUSA is in the process of updating its policy on Gender-based and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response to reflect the current needs of students and will be using these results to inform policy concerns and recommendations. The full stance and recommendations will be available following OUSA’s Spring General Assembly in March 2020.
To see the full report on the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey data for the university sector, click here.
We recognize that the subject of this announcement may trigger strong emotions. If you or someone you know requires support, please consult the resources below:
- Good2Talk: https://good2talk.ca, or call 1-866-925-5454
- Queen’s University: https://www.queensu.ca/sexualviolencesupport/support-and-services
- Brock University: https://brocku.ca/human-rights/sexual-violence/resources/
- University of Waterloo: https://uwaterloo.ca/police/campus-safety/sexual-assault
- McMaster University: https://svrp.mcmaster.ca/get-support
- Laurentian University: https://laurentian.ca/stub-208
- Trent University Durham: https://www.trentu.ca/durham/student-life/student-support-services/counselling
- Western University: https://safecampus.uwo.ca/sexual_violence/
- Wilfrid Laurier University: https://students.wlu.ca/wellness-and-recreation/gendered-violence-prevention-and-support/index.html
- 30 -
OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high quality post-secondary education in Ontario.