Taking a Stand

CSU Votes in Favour of Centre to Aid Sexual Assault Victims

Realizing the ongoing threat that sexual assault poses to students, the councillors of the Concordia Student Union voted to create a sexual assault centre for the university at their meeting last week.

“Concordia University does not have a policy that specifically and comprehensively addresses sexual assault,” said Laura Ellyn of Concordians for a Safer University Community, who spoke to council.

“The policies that do exist conflate sexual assault with sexual harassment. There is no distinction, which makes it impossible for us to tell how many cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment happen at Concordia every year,” she said.

Between one in four and one in six women experience some sort of sexual assault while attending college or university, according to a letter from CSUC detailing the improvements they want to see on campus with regards to sexual assault policy.

CSUC has made a list of objectives they hope to achieve within the next year to improve services to sexual assault victims and the entire university community.

The CSUC wants to see the creation of a permanent space on campus for a sexual assault centre, permanent and sustainable funding for the operations of such a centre, the implementation of mandatory sensitivity training programs for security, counseling and development staff, and the creation of a clear and accessible policy dealing with sexual assault on campus.

The sexual assault centre would be funded by Concordia’s administration.

“In the course of working this campaign, we’ve studied a lot of great policies of universities that we know it’s possible to have better policies than this,” Ellyn said. “We actually sat down with professionals who look at university policies and the first thing they said to us was, ‘This is the most unclear policy we’ve ever seen.’”

In addition to voicing support for the centre, the CSU will be creating a directory of organizations that provide assistance or information to survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment, which will be accessible from their website.