By IRYNA RYBCHAK
While more attention than ever is being paid to sexual violence on post-secondary campuses across North America, Niagara College lacks up-to-date statistics on how many students have made complaints in recent years.
According to Hafsah Shaikh, the college’s student rights and responsibilities officer, amendments made to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act requires post-secondary institutions to report “information about sexual violence to the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development as well as to report on the support available to students who experience sexual violence.”
However, Niagara College has nothing to make public.
“At this time, we (the college) do not have recent statistics and are awaiting ministry clarifications on reporting requirements,” said Shaikh.
When asked why the college does not have recent statistics, Shaikh responded: “At the moment, I don’t have the statistics reported within the last three years.”
Shaikh and the Campus Safety, Health Wellness and Accessibility Services is the first to speak to if you experience any form of sexual violence. The meeting can be confidential or take place in the presence of a friend or a family member.
“During the meeting, they (the students) will have the option of proceeding with an informal or formal complaint,” said Shaikh. “Typically, informal complaints or disclosures are made when students wish to access on-campus or off-campus services including accommodations.”
The investigation will start after the formal complaint will be made by students under the Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault policy, which was signed by Niagara College in March 2015.
Students can also report the incident to police, but usually, “the survivor will retain control of how their experience will be dealt with by the college,” according to Shaikh.
After signing the Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault policy, the college introduced the “Consent is Key” campaign to educate students and prevent sexual violence on campus.
“The ‘Consent is Key’ website has been created to make it easier for students and staff to file a complaint, access the Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence policy, access on-campus and off-campus resources as well as to learn about the steps to take if you have witnessed an assault or if someone has disclosed a sexual assault to you,” said Shaikh.
She continued, “Furthermore, sexual violence training is provided to students and staff at Niagara College. Lastly, the free Niagara College Mobile Safety App allows members of the college community to file a sexual violence complaint, contact the Niagara Sexual Assault Centre and the Niagara College Security Control Centre.”
Also, Niagara College will participate in one of the largest surveys on sexual violence among post-secondary institutions, organized by CCI Research Inc. and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.
“The Student Voices on Sexual Violence Online Survey” takes place from March 5 to April 2, giving as many as 650,000 Ontario students the opportunity to share their experiences, beliefs and statements about inappropriate sexual behaviours. The survey will take place in two circles: the first will be held in 2018 and the second in 2021.