- Victoria Jackson
CBU is Taking Measures to Combat Sexual Violence
Sexual Violence is not a new issue and with a slew of reports made in the past months, CBU has been working to address this issue.
When Women’s Center Administrative coordinator Sarah Currie was asked if CBU should do better to address this issue in January she stated “absolutely.” She suggested there should be more focus towards educating on what sexual violence is and consent rather than focusing on sessions on how women can protect themselves against sexual violence.
Currently, CBU centers such as the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center and the Women’s Center put on education sessions to educate students. They even have some coming up towards the end of March. However, Scott Thomas, CBU’s Human Rights and Diversity officer, highlights that “the biggest challenge is getting people to sessions who need to be at the sessions.”
Another challenge with education on sexual violence is that if you are putting out lots of warnings around sexual violence it can make CBU appear unsafe and “cause unnecessary fear,” as Judy Kelley says. However, Kelley, the director of the Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Center reaffirms “it is a safe campus.”
When Caper Times interviewed Thomas, he mentioned CBU is taking two courses of action to help address sexual violence on campus through education. The first is “working on a mandatory training program.” The second thing Thomas is doing is talking with staff to have more conversations regarding consent.
Mandatory Training Program
This program will be on consent and launched in September. “It will be for new and coming students in order for them to go through the registration process and in order to access Moodle they will have to complete a module.”
One of Thomas’s goals for the module is to “look and reflect on the year that we’re having and where our gaps are.” This will allow the training to ensure the focus is on the most prominent issues and help to educate people around this topic.
Thomas has experience creating policies regarding sexual violence as he developed the first standalone policy on sexual violence at CBU. He understands that this module will not fix everything and there will be challenges.
Currently, one of the biggest challenges in creating this module is “creating the content,” as Thomas wants to “create content that ensures [people] have to read the material.” Thomas also recognizes the misconception that completing the module means you are “okay,” however this is inaccurate as you can still commit an act of sexual violence. Additionally, Thomas notes “It is challenging whenever you say mandatory, but we’ve got to push the envelope.”
Embedding Conversations of Consent
Thomas states this is important as consent is “the responsibility of every person.” Having staff incorporate the topic of consent to their lectures or programs allows for more conversations around consent to happen.
It is important for these conversations around consent to happen because, as Thomas mentions, “A lot of people say they understand consent, but when you start asking questions they really don’t.” Thomas hopes CBU will be an example for the community to have more discussions around the topic. Especially since there’s “very little conversations of consent in p-12 [schooling].”
Having more discussions around consent and creating an environment where people feel safe to do so sets CBU up to be a role model for the community to do the same.
“The key to prevent [sexual violence] is education and conversations” Thomas states. This is reflected in the plans with the mandatory training program and in encouraging more discussions around consent.
Contact information for Supports Systems
Nancy Dingwall Counselling and Health Center Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone number: 902-563-1359
Scott Thomas, Human Rights and Diversity officer Email: Scott_Thomas@cbu.ca
CBU’S Women’s Center Email: email@example.com
SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) Program
· Sydney and greater Cape Breton areas: 1-844-858-8036
· Halifax area: 902-425-0122
· Guysborough, Antigonish, Pictou and Richmond Counties: 1-877-880-SANE (7263)
· Annapolis Valley, South Shore, and Tri County areas: 1-833-577-SANE (7263)
· Cumberland, Colchester East Hants, and Eastern Shore areas:1-833-757-SANE (7263)
For more information on the SANE program: Nova Scotia Health Authority (nshealth.ca)
More facts on sexual violence in Canada:
Sexual Assault And Harassment in Canada | The Facts (canadianwomen.org)
Kelley, Judy. Thomas, Scott. Interview. Conducted by Victoria Jackson.
Currie, Sarah. Butler-Doucette, Sophia. Interview. Conducted by Victoria Jackson.