ASFA Executive believes there should be more steps to ensure a safer campus
Concordia’s Arts and Sciences Federation of Associations (ASFA) will be teaming up with the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) to deliver comprehensive bystander intervention training to all employees and volunteers of ASFA and executives of its member associations later this year.
The measure was proposed by Julia Sutera Sardo, ASFA’s vice president of internal affairs and administration. This was passed unanimously by ASFA’s executives. While consent training was already mandatory for ASFA members, Sutera Sardo felt additional training was a necessary next step to ensure a more safe campus.
“I wanted to bring something complimentary to consent training,” said Sutera Sardo. “It would be something different, but just as important… you can’t talk about one without talking about the other, which is why I wanted to have them both.”
The training sessions, which will be available to members of ASFA and its member organizations during both the fall and winter semesters, will be led by Jennifer Drummond, SARC’s coordinator. The sessions will cover strategies to help students recognize potentially dangerous situations and safe intervention methods.
The training is mandatory for ASFA executives and executives of AFSA’s official member associations, including the Loyola College Student Association, the Liberal Arts Society and the Science College Student Association, among others. In total, approximately 200 students will be receiving this training, and students will not have to pay for the sessions.
ASFA represents Concordia’s largest faculty association, which consists of nearly 15,000 undergraduate students and approximately 20,450 students overall. Sutera Sardo believes executives of ASFA’s member associations are seen as student leaders, so having them receive this training could help prevent sexual assault, bullying and other forms of harassment or violence on campus.
“I know a lot of students, especially first-year students in residence, might not necessarily know what kind of services are offered at Concordia and they often look to their peers. If their peers and their student leaders are aware of [bystander intervention strategies], then they can lead better and they can make the campus safer,” said Sutera Sardo.
The proposal met unanimous support when it came time to vote, but there were initial concerns, mainly regarding the time commitment for mandatory training sessions. However, Sutera Sardo and Drummond arranged for the training to be offered as a one-time session available at various times throughout both semesters, making it flexible for students with busy schedules.
“It was a question of time. People had said that they had already given a lot of time to ASFA,” Sutera Sardo said. “But ultimately, they realized that an hour, two hours more to make sure that the people we represent feel safe, is nothing.”
The training—and its widespread support among associations—leaves Sutera Sardo feeling optimistic about the future of AFSA.
“This was something that needed to be done. There was no question about it and I’m glad all of ASFA is on board. We’re moving towards this change that we need,” Sutera Sardo said.