A new study written by five researchers at the Université de Moncton shows that just under half of all students and staff have experienced at least one incidence of sexual violence, harassment or coercion on campus.
“We were aware that there was some sexual violence on campus but we wanted to have a clear view of the magnitude of the problem,” co-author and Université de Moncton psychology professor Sylvie Morin said in an interview.
She and her co-authors conducted the study via online survey.
Eighty-six per cent of participants who reported having experienced an incidence of sexual violence did not report the matter to the university.
A spokesperson from the university told Global News in an emailed statement that “five complaints (had been) filed with the Ombud office in relation to the Sexual Violence Policy and 4 reports related to sexual situations” over the 2021-2022 academic year.
“There is no simple way to address this complex problem,” Morin said, noting she was hoping to see change to the university’s existing sexual violence policy, which was established in 2017.
She said there are several issues with the policy, including a lack of formal process to appeal an investigation.
“There was some concern with the communication of the results to the victims…there were some processes in the first policy that weren’t well enough described and developed to give a clear view about what to do when this matter occurs,” she said.
A new sexual violence policy has been in the works for three years.
“Three years is a long time since we have a lot of cases — well, a few cases — and we are continuing with this study to find that it’s a problem on campus,” FÉCUM president Jean-Sébastien Légèr said on Friday.
In a written statement, university president and vice-chancellor Denis Prud’Homme said:
“This violence is still under-reported in all spheres of society, and universities are unfortunately no exception to this reality. There are interveners on every campus to receive complaints from members of the university community who believe they are victims of sexual assault or violence.”
Currently, all academic and administrative staff receive six hours of mandatory training related to sexual violence, as well as training on respect in the workplace, according to a spokesperson from the university.
There is also a free and confidential sexual violence intervention service available to students and staff year-round.
They also said a revised version of the sexual violence policy will soon be tabled to a governance committee.