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Provincial government invests $2.5 million in reducing sexual violence on post-secondary campuses

The $2.5 million is dedicated to supporting training and awareness programs on campus.

The Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education has announced that $2.5 million will be invested to encourage change and safety around sexual violence in campus communities.

The statement, released on February 15, says that the investment will be used to develop a province-wide survey to better understand sexual violence and harassment on post-secondary campuses. It also acknowledges some of the concerns that have been raised about the issue by student leaders.

“Alberta’s government agrees with student leaders from across the province that more needs to be done to address sexual violence in campus communities,” the statement reads. “Post-secondary institutions are being asked to revisit and revise their sexual violence policies to ensure best practices are implemented.”

The $2.5 million, whose allocation will be released at a later date, is directed towards supporting post-secondaries in training and awareness programs about sexual violence on campus. The statement also points to the Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy, whose key goals include “improv[ing] access and student experience,” adding that this includes “help[ing] address sexual violence in Alberta’s campus communities.”

Post-secondary institutions are expected to review their current sexual violence policies and revise them by the end of 2022, “ensuring they take a survivor-focused approach.”

In collaboration with the Culture and Status of Women, the Ministry of Advanced Education will work with post-secondary schools to develop this survey. The survey is expected to launch when students return to campus in the Fall 2022 semester, gathering results until the end of the 2022 – 2023 academic year.

Steven Dew, vice-president (academic) and provost of the university mentioned the work that is currently being done by the University of Alberta to address sexual violence.

“Addressing and responding to sexual violence is a priority for the University of Alberta, and we welcome and appreciate the provincial government’s support in this area,” Dew said. “The university has already taken important steps towards addressing sexual violence at the institution — including the recent hiring of the U of A’s first Sexual Violence Response Coordinator. We look forward to working with the Government of Alberta in continuing to create a safe and supportive learning environment.”

In response, the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) released a statement on February 16 applauding the investment, thanking the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and other student organizations for their “impassioned, long-term advocacy.”

Talia Dixon, vice-president (student life) of the UASU), mentioned that while the UASU and the university have not yet worked out how the allocated money will be spent, it’s an “exciting” opportunity to fund other parts of addressing sexual violence.

“It’s very exciting that this announcement came out and the university is going to be getting some funding because one of the big barriers to addressing sexual violence on campus is that we have a lack of funding,” Dixon said. “There’s so many things this could be used to address. For example, it could be used to address things like creating more support positions for survivors, having more preventative training programs — the list goes on, and I think we’ll be working to figure that out with the university in the next couple of weeks.”

Christian Fotang, vice-president (external) of the UASU, highlighted the work of students leaders in the past few years.

“This announcement is great news,” Fotang said. “This is [the outcome of] years of advocacy of student leaders … but it’s just the start of hopefully more things that need to be done.”

“There are more recommendations that we gave to the provincial government that they can continue to act on, but I recognize that we all have to start somewhere, and we welcome this announcement.”

Jin He

Jin is the 2022-23 Production Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2021-22 Production Editor. She is in her third year studying chemistry and biology. If not sleeping, she can often be found supporting local artisans and sporting some wicked earrings.

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