StFX's new Sexual Violence Policy is scheduled to launch the week of October 31st. It will not only provide a document where people can find information about resources and options available for victims/ survivors, but will also encourage victims to step forward.
The university felt the need to move forward with this policy as "sexual violence is one of the biggest issues of concern in society today, including on university and college campuses," according to Margie McKinnon, Director of Health, Counselling and Accessible Learning here at StFX.
Sexual assault on university campuses is a rising problem. Statistics show that among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Only 20% of female victims report their assault to law enforcement.
"The policy clearly outlines our response to both 'disclosures' and 'reports' of sexual violence involving students," says McKinnon. The policy also includes information and guidance for the people who are trying to support the students who have survived sexual violence. In addition to this, the policy ties in closely with the Community Code of Conduct, which outlines the University's process for responding to reports of sexual violence involving students.
The policy was approved by the President and the President's Council a few weeks ago and will be formally launched next week. In addition, McKinnon is hoping a lot of students will attend a screening of "The Hunting Ground" on Wednesday, November 2nd, which will be followed by a panel discussion/Q+A with the audience, members of the Sexual Violence Policy Implementation Committee, and student leaders. This will provide more clarity if there are any questions about the new Sexual Violence Policy.
The policy has taken many years and the hard work of many people to be enacted. Many different perspectives are being represented, including StFX students, staff and faculty members and community partners; it has been a hugely collaborative effort. McKinnon says, "Our campus is already engaged in many activities focused on preventing sexual violence, and now that our new policy has been approved we're looking forward to continuing this important work, through public education, bystander intervention, and a policy that will be a valuable resource for our community members."
It is important to stop sexual violence on campus and make sure each member of this community feels safe and respected; we must all work together to put an end to sexual violence at StFX.