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Over 650 sign letter calling on N.S. government to protect survivors of sexual violence

FILE: A poster calls for a stop to sexual violence. Cory McGraw / Global News

The school year may just be wrapping up for university students in Nova Scotia but the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia says it’s still hard at work. On Tuesday morning the federation called on the Nova Scotia government to re-establish its commitment to preventing sexual violence on the province’s campuses.

READ MORE: Student leaders tackle consent, sexual assault during orientation

The group’s demands came in the form of a letter signed by over 650 students and delivered to Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education, Kelly Regan, on Tuesday morning.

“Students in Nova Scotia are currently represented by a provincial government who refuses to take appropriate steps to protect survivors of sexual assault,” said Charlotte Kiddell, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia, in a press release.

Kidell called on the implementation of legislation similar to Bill 114, the Safer Universities and Colleges Act, which called for every university and college in the province to adopt a sexual assault policy and make the public aware of all sexual assaults that occur on campus.

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The Nova Scotia government blocked Bill 114 from passing while similar legislation introduced by the province’s opposition parties have failed.

“Students and staff should feel safe on campus, and Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions share our commitment to improving sexual violence prevention, support, and information,” wrote a spokesperson for the department of  Labour and Advanced Education.

The spokesperson added that universities require stand-alone sexual violence policies and that they need to be renewed every three years through an inclusive process.

WATCH: Report into sexism at Dalhousie dentistry school released

The delivery of the letter comes after two high-profile scandals surrounding sexual assault at the provinces’ universities.

It has been nearly four years since video was released showing students from Saint Mary’s University participating in a chant calling for non-consensual sex with underage girls and three years since a Facebook group for men enrolled in Dalhousie’s dentistry school was discovered to include misogynistic statements about female classmates.

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“It’s time for Minister Regan and the Nova Scotia Liberals to join provincial governments across the country and recognize that students deserve the highest protection from sexualized violence,” said Kiddell in the press release.

According to the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia, one in five women enrolled in post-secondary education will experience sexual assault during their studies.

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