U of R working to reduce gender-based violence

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The University of Regina is working its way towards a safer campus. 

The facility has released its Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Needs Assessment Report, including nine major recommendations.

University president Vianne Timmons says the recommendations will be tough to implement because of funding cuts in the provincial budget.

But their priority remains to make the campus safer.  

"As a mother, when I send my child to university I want them to be safe," said Timmons on Thursday.

"Whether it is my son or my daughter, I want this to be a place that they can be who they are, so they can learn new things, so they can grow and make mistakes but in a safe environment."

New violence-prevention role

Roz Kelsey has been appointed director of gendered violence-prevention strategies at the University of Regina.

It's a 16-month secondment which she hopes will become a permanent position in the future.

Last summer Kelsey oversaw the launch of a campus-wide climate survey. Approximately 2,300 people took part.

"Between that climate survey and focus groups and interviews, we were able to collect some information about what people know about what we're doing on campus, and what kind of things are available in terms of support," said Kelsey.

The survey collected data about the experiences of students, faculty and staff when it comes to gender violence, who is experiencing it and where they're experiencing it.

Helping students come forward

Kelsey says opportunities need to be in place for students to come forward in ways that they are aware of and comfortable with.

"It's difficult to come forward because it's a traumatic event, so anytime you have to re-tell a traumatic event it's a taxing thing to do," said Kelsey. 

One of Kelsey's priorities is to prepare support staff for when someone does come forward.

"What do you do if somebody comes to you with this kind of information? And sometimes it comes out when you least expect it so we need to know what to do to support survivors of that."

Building a safety net

Timmons said the report's recommendations will help focus current efforts to prevent sexual assault and violence, improve the university's response and ensure that students, faculty and staff have a welcoming, safe place to learn, teach and work.

Timmons believes the U of R policy is superb but can still be improved.

"We are one of the first universities to put in a policy on sexual assault and violence in place on campus so we have been working hard on this, but things are going to happen to our students," said Timmons. 

"We can do as much as we can to educate but then we also have to build that safety net when something happens, and it will happen."

Gender-Based Violence Needs Assessment Report recommendations:

- Creating a new director/administrative position with overall responsibility for GBV strategies at the iniversity.

- Improving the current Sexual Violence and Assault Policy to ensure clarity for survivors regarding the reporting process.

- Developing survivor-focused protocols that are made available to all students, staff, faculty and administration.

- Renewing the personal safety co-ordinator position in order to strengthen its support of sexual violence survivors.

- Developing and implementing a Sexual Violence Task Force to co-ordinate the sexual violence response across the university community.

- Undertaking a review of GBV education and awareness programs to evaluate their capacity to promote transformative change and effectively contribute to prevention efforts.

- Increasing the capacity of Man Up Against Violence to deliver primary prevention and educational opportunities within the university community.

- Ensuring collaboration of agencies/resources currently working on the issue of sexual violence on campus.

- Developing community-based collaborations with off-campus service providers.

A copy of the report is available on the University of Regina website.