The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
By SARAH PIERCEY Staff Writer Sexual assault and harassment are two things we are told about in school and on television as we grow up. The provincial government has a new way of getting these messages across. It can all be summed up in a cup of tea. Consent is Tea, a video shown at provincial colleges and universities debuted the beginning of this school year. In summary, the message is that if your friend doesn’t want a cup of tea, you don’t pressure them to drink it. So what is Niagara College doing for students on campus? Director of Student Services on campus is Rick Anderson says, “All Niagara College Orientation leaders received ‘Bringing in the Bystander’ training, which encourages participants to intervene and stop assaults before they occur. This training, which is used by several colleges and universities, is currently being rolled out to the broader Niagara College community.” He continued, “Sexual assault is considered a serious offence and will be addressed in a manner consistent with other serious offences through the college’s Practice on Discipline for Disruptive Student Behaviour and/or other College practices, policies and agreements. A report of sexual violence may also be referred to the police or other community resources at the complainant’s request.” So, if you’re wandering the college grounds and someone tries to attack or verbally accost you, what do you do? How do you get help? The security office is easy to access. An officer at the Welland campus told Niagara News that every pay phone is equipped with a big red button with a direct link to security. The in-class phones also have a security link programmed into the speed dial panel. If you are on your way to your car at the end of the day, the office can be reached 24/7 at 905-735-2211 ext. 6999. This number is the same at all three of Niagara College’s campuses. Every student in the college is aware of the new sexual assault awareness policy as multi-coloured keys are hanging from the ceilings and magnetized to lockers. Samantha Redmond-Davis, 27, is a first-year student in the Practical Nursing program at the Welland campus. “I learned about the new rules on campus regarding sexual harassment policies on orientation day when they showed the Tea = Consent video.” When questioned about the emergency contacts, she replied, “I don’t have a clue where the [emergency] buttons are or the number.” The college is diligent about publicizing the new policies, but students say administrators may want to make the emergency call options more widely known. Many that were asked had no idea how to contact help.