The Mount Saint Vincent University community marked the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) with an event held yesterday in the McCain Centre Atrium. The event focused on the devastating impacts of sexual assault, and the measures we can all take to stop violence and support survivors. The University’s revised Policy Against Sexual Assault was also introduced.
The Mount’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee
In her opening remarks, Dr. Mary Bluechardt, President and Vice-Chancellor of the Mount, highlighted the work of the University’s Sexual Violence Prevention Committee.
“The Mount established a Sexual Violence Prevention Committee a little over a year ago to enhance the University’s work on the prevention of, and response to, sexualized violence,” said Dr. Bluechardt. “The committee reports directly to me and includes students, faculty, staff, and a community representative from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. I’m sincerely grateful for the work of this committee and I thank them for their dedication to this important topic.”
The Committee, which is responsible for policy development, as well as education, training and awareness, created a video last year titled Time to Act: 5 Ways to End Sexualized Violence. The video was played at the event, and featured the following actions each of us can take:
• Challenge victim blaming
• Ask for consent
• Say no to gender stereotypes
• Get involved and take action
• Confront racism and oppression
New Sexual Assault Awareness flag
Dr. Bluechardt also unveiled a new Sexual Assault Awareness Month flag that will fly on the flag pole attached to the front of Seton Academic Centre.
The Mount’s revised Policy Against Sexual Assault
Paula Barry, Associate Vice-President of Student Experience at the Mount, and Chair of the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, provided an outline of the Mount’s updated Policy Against Sexual Assault. The University first launched its policy in 2015. Over the past year, it was revised in collaboration with students, faculty, staff, and subject matter experts on campus and in the broader community, and was recently approved by the Mount’s Board of Governors.
“Our goal with this updated policy is to increase the level of confidence members of the Mount community have in the University to come forward with either a disclosure or formal report of sexual assault,” said Barry. “Our revised policy is trauma-informed and survivor-centred, and incorporates the invaluable feedback received from students, faculty, staff and student groups across the country.”
Student Madeline Mitchell, a member of the Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union, as well as the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, also spoke at the event. She pointed to the need for more, and enhanced, consent education at all levels of education, and for society in general.