November 3, 2016 10:15 am
Updated: November 3, 2016 1:08 pm

17 ‘legitimate calls’ made to Dalhousie University’s sexual assault phone line last school year

“This phone line shouldn't come down to numbers, even if just one person called, that's what's important because it's providing this option for students,” said Rhiannon Makohoniuk, a vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union, in August.

Steve Silva / Global News

The Dalhousie Student Union’s (DSU) Sexual Assault and Harassment Phone Line received 17 “legitimate” calls during its first seven and a half months in operation, according to a report the university and the union refused to release.

The “Dalhousie Student Union Sexual Assault & Harassment Phone Line Service Review Report” (posted at the bottom of this page) was provided to Global News through a Freedom of Information request.

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READ MORE: Dalhousie Student Union paring down sexual assault helpline due to ‘inadequate’ funding

Between Sept. 6, 2015 and April 25, 2016, 57 calls were received by volunteers, including 17 “legitimate calls” (two of which were repeat calls), 17 hang-ups, 14 referrals, 13 wrong numbers, and seven missed calls.

The document noted that the line may not have been operational for approximately two weeks in March.

A union representative said in August the university offered “inadequate” funding for the service this school year, so the union decided to offer a truncated version of the program scheduled to end November 3.

WATCH ABOVE: The Dalhousie Student Union says its 24-hour sexual assault and harassment phone line is closing early because the university isn’t providing the necessary funding. 

Arig al Shaibah, a vice-provost for Dalhousie University, said this year’s financial contribution maintained its original agreement of covering no more than 50 per cent of the cost of the program.

Last year, it provided $30,000 while the union covered $22,500. Because the program only cost $45,000, Dalhousie gave $7,500 too much.

READ MORE: ‘A light to students’: Dal sexual assault phone line gets funding, extension

This year, it provided the union $15,000, which, when including the extra $7,500 from last year, is half of the cost of the phone line.

A review on the program factored into the university’s decision on funding.

When asked for a copy of that review in August, al Shaibah would not release it.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to,” she said, adding that the union should be the one to release it.

READ MORE: Dal students start helpline for sexual assault victims

The union said it wanted more money from Dalhousie to improve the service, including hiring a coordinator; it also declined to release the review.

“This phone line shouldn’t come down to numbers, even if just one person called, that’s what’s important because it’s providing this option for students,” said Rhiannon Makohoniuk, a vice-president of the union.

Two paragraphs on page six of the review were redacted under the heading “Phone Pick-up/drop Off,” because they identify where volunteers take phone calls, and store phones, logs of calls, and keys.

“To minimize the safety risk to callers and volunteers, the University is electing to refuse to disclose this information,” read the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act decision authored by John Hope, assistant general counsel.

Read the Dalhousie Student Union Sexual Assault & Harassment Phone Line Service Review Report below:

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