BC government launches campaign to prevent sexualized violence and misconduct on university and college campuses

The BC government is launching a new information campaign around sexualized violence on university and college campuses.
The BC government is launching a new information campaign around sexualized violence on university and college campuses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. government has launched a new campaign targeting male students at post-secondary institutions to emphasize that “sexual violence and misconduct can never be part of student life.”

Information will be posted in local bars, on campus and in student newspapers as well as on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

WATCH HERE: Public meeting tonight at UBC to address womens’ safety

“Student life should never include any type of sexualized violence or misconduct. However, we know that roughly two-thirds of sexual assaults on campus occur during the first eight weeks of school,” Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark said.

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“Our campaign focuses on raising awareness. Sexualized violence and misconduct should never be part of student life. They have life-changing consequences for everyone involved. Clear consent is always required.”

According to the provincial government, around one in every five women will experience sexualized violence while studying at a post-secondary institution. All 25 universities and colleges in British Columbia are involved in the campaign.

“It’s critical that we send a strong message,” Mark said. “We want students to feel safe, and to know that any type of sexualized violence or misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

All post-secondary institutions in B.C. are required by law to have sexual assault policies.

The University of British Columbia was the first to establish new rules.

The policy established centralized sexualized violence prevention and response offices at UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. The offices receive reports, refer complainants to support services and, if requested, provide information about the investigation process.

Directors of investigations has been hired to review reports within 14 days and decide whether the university has jurisdiction. Reports can then be passed to external investigators with sexual assault training, who would have 60 days to complete their work.

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The federal government has also changed it policy around sexualized violence on campus, with $5.5 million in funding over five years. The plan is to bolster support for sexual assault crisis centres in universities and come up with a national framework for the issue. If universities’ policies don’t measure up, they may lose the federal funding.

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