University students seek sexual violence legislation

A national students' group has delivered a letter with hundreds of signatures to Nova Scotia Education Minister Kelly Regan demanding provincial legislation to prevent sexualized violence on campus.

The Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Federation of Students is calling for stand-alone sexual assault policies, funding for survivor supports as well as data collection and reporting.

"This is legislation that students have been calling on in this province and all over the country for years now," said Charlotte Kiddell, chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia.

Sexual assault and campus culture

More than 650 names were attached to the letter, which was endorsed by numerous community organizations around the province.

The letter stated one in five women enrolled at a post-secondary institution will experience sexual assault during their studies.

It also said the Dalhousie Dentistry Gentlemen's Club controversy and public events such as the Saint Mary's University rape chants were not isolated incidents.

'A sense of urgency'

"Sexual violence has always been pervasive on our university and college campuses," said Kiddell.

"There certainly is a sense of urgency and it is well beyond time for our government to be taking action to protect students and survivors on campus."

Kiddell said similar legislation has already been passed in Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba.

The letter said the majority of sexual assaults on campus go unreported because students fear they will not be believed or supported by their institutions.