Sexual misconduct campaign alive on campus
Students arriving at The University of Winnipeg this week are seeing catchy posters and pop up banners around campus with a clear message: Sex: Ask First. Ask Always. New students are also receiving informative postcards with resources in their Orientation welcome kits and a half hour of compulsory training related to myths and facts around sexual assault, and how to be an “Upstander” to help create safer, more respectful communities.
Following months of extensive consultations with students, and discussions with some faculty and community partners such as Klinic Community Health Centre, UWinnipeg developed a comprehensive Sexual Misconduct Protocol in spring 2015. It includes a 24/7 Sexual Misconduct Response Team (SMRT) and incorporates best practices from across North America. The protocol focuses on building a respectful, safe climate that is free from any type of sexual violence, and provides a broad range of supports for people involved.
Over the course of the August and September, UWinnipeg is delivering education workshops around sexual misconduct to over 25 groups, with the hope of reaching 2,000 people, including students in residence, first year students, athletes, coaches, support staff and faculty. Training on campus and the accompanying awareness campaign will continue throughout the coming year.
“This is a collaborative effort with our students who have clearly said they want this kind of education on campus, with a goal of creating respectful relationships where consent is talked about and understood,” said Jan Byrd, Executive Director Wellness and Student Life. “We are proud to be a leader in Canada by offering a 24-7 help line staffed by trained professionals.”
The protocol defines sexual misconduct, which encompasses a range of behaviours, including (1) sexual harassment, (2) stalking, and (3) the threat of sexual assault and sexual assault. It applies to all students, faculty and staff.
The Sexual Misconduct Response Team is comprised of senior staff from Security, Counselling, Wellness and Student Life, Campus Living and Student Support Services. The protocol also creates the Advisory Committee on Sexual Misconduct, comprised of administrators, faculty and student representatives, to continually assess the effectiveness of the protocol and to collect and analyze and report aggregate information on sexual misconduct.
A website dedicated to sexual misconduct information is live at: uwinnipeg.ca/askfirst