It’s an issue students in Lethbridge say is far too prevalent, and they’re demanding action on a provincial level to combat sexual violence on campuses across Alberta.
“It’s student-led and survivor-led and research-based and it’s very unique to Alberta,” said Bailey Harray, a fifth-year student at the University of Lethbridge and vice-chair of CAUS.
Between 2016 and 2019, 17 cases of sexual assault were reported at the University of Lethbridge. It’s a number Harray said could be much higher as many sexual assaults go unreported.
She said putting a blanket provincial policy in place and creating more resources may help more survivors come forward.
“Then also the post-secondary institutions that don’t have the personnel or the ability to follow the policy has the government to fall back on.”
The study offers five recommendations for safer campuses including funding for on-site specialists and online courses covering the basics of bystander intervention, which Harray said is a proactive approach to the issue.
“It’s so important to know what to do and to feel empowered to intervene. Because even when it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, it is,” she said.
“Having those bystander programs in place will definitely alleviate some issues and make survivors feel more empowered to come forward.”
In June of 2018, the University of Lethbridge implemented a sexual violence policy with the aim of having a better process for complaints and investigations, as well as emphasizing the university’s role in supporting victims.
But Kathleen Massey, the associate vice-president (student) with the University of Lethbridge, said there’s always room for improvement.
“Our sexual violence educator is currently working on creating online modules that can be delivered to and accessed by anyone on campus,” Massey said.
“I think this will be very important for us and if we had more collaboration and support in this area then I think it would be an excellent outcome.”
Members of CAUS are working with the province to move forward with their ideas.
In an emailed statement, the Government of Alberta said: “sexual violence is a far too common occurrence in our province and on our campuses.”