After nearly two years of students trying to establish a sexual assault resource centre, Concordia will be opening a centre this fall, in the GM building on the Sir George Williams Campus. On March 5, 2012, in an attempt to demonstrate how important and needed a sexual assault centre would be, students took it upon themselves to rally and campaign in and around the school to gain recognition. Students also created a petition in which they managed to receive more than 1,000 signatures. Nearly a year and a half later, students’ efforts have been acknowledged and they are being provided the space and funding to support the centre they’ve been asking for.
Administrative coordinator for the Centre for Gender Advocacy, Julie Michaud, acted alongside the group of students last year, to show her support and to bring as much awareness as possible to the issue of sexual consent.
On Jan. 25, 2012 in a Dragonroot Radio interview, a workshop series at CKUT radio, Michaud spoke about the campaign to open a sexual assault centre at Concordia and why it is so crucial.
“We’re asking them to re-vamp their policies around sexual assault to make them more comprehensive, more accessible and more understandable by everyone in the university community,” said Michaud. “That includes making sure that security staff and counselling and development staff understand those policies really clearly and that they get sensitivity and awareness training around sexual assault.”
Director of the Counselling and Development Department at Concordia, Howard Magonet, was one of six members on the advisory committee that spearheaded the organization and recruitment process of the sexual assault resource centre.
“Andrew Woodall, the dean of students, brought a whole group of people together for us to have a consultation [with], which has been, in my opinion, a great consultative process that’s included representatives from the CSU, centre 2110 [Centre for Gender Advocacy], as well as a variety of internal Concordia departments.”
With a background in social work, Magonet will act as a supervisor for the centre. Interviews for a centre coordinator wrapped up last week.Many candidates applied to fill the position as coordinator for the centre and after thorough background and resume checks by the advisory committee, three applicants were chosen to be interviewed, after which the advisory committee came to a unanimous decision about one candidate, whose name cannot yet be given.
“The candidate [chosen] is very eager, and we’re obviously very eager. I think he or she will be a great asset to the Concordia community,” said Magonet.
In order to further solidify the importance and actuality of opening the centre at Concordia, Magonet took to the streets of Montreal to spread the word.
“I’ve gone out and started initial conversations with external partners, such as the police, the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, different CLSCs and different shelters, just to try to get the ball going before all this gets launched.”
Services that can be expected at the centre include interventions, education, outreach, as well as appropriate referral resources for survivors of sexual assault. Services will also include crisis intervention and accompaniment for individuals who require it and the development of peer support initiatives.
At the moment, there is no set date for the opening of the centre. However, Magonet has said the centre can be expected to open “sometime at the end of September, [early] October.”
Concordia will be the sixth Canadian university to open a sexual assault centre on campus.