Using your knowledge and experience to strengthen prevention and response
The Antigonish Women’s Resource Center and Sexual Assault Services Association (AWRCSASA) and several community partners including Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, St. Francis Xavier University and the Strait Regional School Board have announced a sexual violence climate survey. It was launched on Wednesday March 14, 2018 by the Advancing Women’s Equality (AWE) Project. The goal of this climate survey is a direct response to sexualized violence in rural Nova Scotia and a tangible way in transforming the context and bringing about an end to such sexualized violence.
The AWE Project is a community-based project that is advocating for more effective policies and systems in regards to sexualized violence; transforming the context in which sexualized violence is perpetrated; and utilizing a survivor-centred approach in analyzing the current practices while assessing community needs and advocating for changes in policies and systems within the three partner communities. AWE is gathering insights that are gained through cross-community collaboration which will inform the creation of a new model of addressing sexualized violence in a rural context. This new model will be shared with other communities that are seeking to build a more community-based approach in addressing the many rampant forms of sexual violence. Led by the AWRCSASA, AWE is a singular entity in a network of projects that are funded by the Status of Women Canada which is a collective movement in empowering women leaders to advance gender equality. It is important to note that AWRCSASA uses a definition of “woman” and “female” which actively includes trans women, gender-queer women and non-binary folks.
Facilitating the AWE project builds on the previous work of the AWRCSASA’s Responding to and Preventing Sexual Violence in Paqtnkek Mi’kmaw Nation, Preventing Violence against Women at St. Francis Xavier University and the Bringing in the Bystander programs. At the heart of this project is the addressing of all forms of sexual violence including harassment, cyber-misogyny, slut-shaming and blaming as well as sexual assault. AWE also focuses on institutional recognition and take-up as well as aspects of colonization and the contemporary issues that are sustained by such legacy. Thus, decolonization and reconciliation are fundamental elements of the AWE project in tackling sexuality and consent education and advocacy as well as identifying and working with the practical needs of vulnerable groups in the partner communities.
The AWE Project is now issuing a call to all StFX students of all genders to participate in this student-based, campus-community research study to deepen the discourse surrounding sexual violence and pursue tangible ways to eradicate it. The survey was adopted from climate surveys that have already been conducted across various US campuses through Not Alone: The first report of the White House Task Force to protect students from sexual assault. It has also been previously conducted at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Annie Chau, the AWE Project coordinator and co-investigator for this survey says, “Acknowledging what students know about sexual violence and how they experience sexual violence is critical in our work to better prevent and respond” Students are especially important to reach out to in this work as “in so many important ways, students on this campus are already engaged. This survey provides the opportunity for us to listen and really hear from them.”
The Director of health, Counselling and Accessible Learning here at StFX, Margaret McKinnon, who is also the Principal Investigator for this project adds that
“The feedback from this survey will help us further develop and strengthen our policies and practices to address sexual violence. The survey will provide us with baseline data about student’s experiences with sexual violence which will be important in guiding the direction of our prevention initiatives and will assist us with evaluating change and progress in the future.”
By participating in this survey, students at StFX have a unique opportunity to be directly involved in the re-structuring of sexual violence prevention and response on our community.
“It only takes 35 minutes to help make our community safer”
Bre O’Handley, the Gender and Sexual Diversity Student Advisor as well as a co-investigator, asserts that: “This is the first-time accurate data on sexualized violence will be collected here at StFX. Finally, all students have the opportunity to take a small amount of time to contribute to StFX’s efforts to prevent sexualized violence in our community.”
Those who participate in this survey will be entered to win a one-of-five $100.00 Visa Gift Card. Beyond this incentive however, Alison Armstrong, an Honors student in Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies urges students to participate because “So many students, myself included, have been looking for ways to share our knowledge and experiences regarding sexual violence on campus in a meaningful way; I think this is that way. This data will inform practical decision making and changes that are needed to make our campus safer.”
To take part in the survey head over to svclimatesurvey.ca. You can direct any further questions or inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided in this article has come directly from the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre’s press release and website. It is time to say No More.