$23M for sexual assault resources at Quebec's CEGEPs, universities
Published Monday, August 21, 2017 2:22PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 22, 2017 2:00PM EDT
Quebec is devoting $23 million over the next five years to deal with sexual assaults on campus.
Higher Education Minister Helene David announced Monday that in the next few weeks she will table legislation regarding strategies to prevent sexual assault.
The bill will also require CEGEPs and universities to create sexual assault policies to deal with violence involving students.
“It's zero tolerance about that. That is new,” she said.
Kiosks will be set up so students know exactly where to go if an incident occurs. Students will also be able to easily switch classes or postpone exams if necessary.
The first eight weeks of the scholastic year are apparently the most high-risk time of the year for students, as incoming young adults and teenagers deal with frosh week, new companions, and for many their first time living away from parents.
“It's their first exposure, legally, to alcohol. I think that can also cloud judgment and cloud the whole issue of consent,” said Dean Howie, director of student services at CEGEP Champlain Saint-Lambert.
The sexual assault policies will have to cover prevention, how to deal with complaints, and the security of victims.
Concordia University has had a sexual assault policy in past for the past year, and employees say having a consistent policy has made it easier to assist people - such as coming up with accommodations to deal with victims.
“I think it sets the tone at the beginning of the school year that these kinds of incident or this type of behavior -- whether it's sexual assault or sexual harassment or cyber violence -- is not acceptable,” said Jennifer Drummond, coordinator of the Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
Montrealer Ariane Litalien, a sexual assault survivor, said she wishes the services were in place during the hardest days of her life.
While attending Harvard University, the man she was with refused to take no for answer.
“I kind of broke down in tears and realized that what had happened was more than him being rude or inappropriate,” she said.
Now a medical student at McGill, the announcement is bittersweet for her.
“(It’s good) really to see that things are being done, that survivors are taken seriously, that survivors will have some sort of structure to hold their universities accountable. That's incredible.”