The Ontario government is giving the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) a healthy sum of money to develop materials to train campus employees about sexual violence and harassment.
CREVAWC, which is located at Western University, plans on using the money to develop a series of online videos to train campus employees from top administrators to campus volunteers. The project will ensure that victims will be able to disclose a troubling sexual encounter to anyone they feel close to on campus.
“The majority of people, given the uncomfortable nature of the subject, wouldn’t know how to handle that, so we want to prepare as many people as possible by teaching them how to be supportive and respond appropriately,” said CREVAWC Community Director Barb MacQuarrie.
The funding, which arrives in yearly installments of $100,000 each, is part of a $1.7-million investment by the province to better train frontline workers.
Specifically, the money will go towards creating about a dozen video scenarios, shot by a professional director, that show a moment of disclosure. The first part of the video will show the wrong way to handle the situation, followed by a cut of the same scenario with an appropriate response.
MacQuarrie hopes to have the 12 videos completed and online by September 2017.
“We set up a variety of situations that someone might encounter, and we use a really diverse range of actors too. So we want this to be representative. We want every student in some way to be able to see themselves reflected,” she said. “One of our challenges is to make this training as universal as possible, but at the same time, keep it very specific and personal so that somebody feels like they really have tools and they really are prepared to engage in those difficult conversations.”
CREVAWC is also hoping to highlight the differences in policies from campus to campus and the support networks available to victims.
“We’re at the very beginning of learning how to do this work well. Post-secondary institutions have lots of caring individuals, but they don’t have a long history of addressing this subject in an open and welcoming way,” said MacQuarrie. “This funding and this project are going to go a long way towards helping that change.”
Earlier this month, an inflammatory message was written on the window of a student’s home near Western University that read “No means yes and yes means anal,” prompting outcry from women’s advocate Megan Walker.
The university condemned the vandalism, saying, “The message written on that window, which included the statement ‘No means Yes’, is a form of sexual violence.”