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Student union supports creation of sexual assault centre

by The Concordian October 18, 2011
The Concordia Student Union council threw their support behind the creation of a sexual assault centre on campus at a meeting last Wednesday in the hopes of remedying what they see as a gap in the resources offered to sexual assault survivors at Concordia University.
Council unanimously approved a motion presented by councillor Irmak Bahar, endorsing the creation of a sexual assault centre on campus to be funded by Concordia, a cause championed by the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy in their sexual assault centre campaign.
As a result, the CSU executive will be writing a letter of support requesting that the university create a permanent space on campus for a sexual assault centre with constant and sustainable funding. The motion also requested mandatory sensitivity training programs for security, counseling and development staff, and other faculty or staff who would wish to participate.
“The administration hasn’t received any communication regarding the discussion and endorsement at the CSU Council meeting, but the issue will be looked into,” university spokesperson Chris Mota wrote in an email.
“It was clear to us that the student union understood that it’s a responsibility of the university to ensure a safer campus for everybody, for all students. It was important to get that passed and to have that clearly stated and we were very happy at the unanimity of the vote as well. That was fantastic,” said Bianca Mugyenyi, the 2110 Centre’s programming and campaigns coordinator.
The centre kicked off their campaign in the spring of this year, the bulk of their efforts directed to furthering public education and awareness with the ultimate goal of “increasing the pressure on the university to fund and give space to a sustainable sexual assault centre, as well as to address the lack of clear and accessible policies relating specifically to cases of sexual assault,” Mugyenyi explained.
Twelve cases of sexual harassment were brought to Concordia’s Office of Rights and Responsibilities in 2009-2010, one of which resulted in a formal complaint, according to their annual report. Mugyenyi called that figure low, saying it alluded more to the fact that students are not reporting cases of harassment or assault (the two are conflated in the annual report and Concordia policy).
Mugyenyi compared the number of cases at Concordia to those at the University of Alberta, which has a student population of 29,100, an established sexual assault centre and, according to Mugyenyi, around 200 cases of reported sexual assault every year. A 2001 survey of University of Alberta students stated that 21 per cent of respondents reported at least one unwanted sexual experience in their lives.
A 2004 Statistics Canada survey found approximately 512,200 Canadians aged 15 and older had been the victims of a sexual assault in the 12 months preceding the survey. That is equivalent to 1,977 incidents of sexual assault per 100,000 people aged 15 and older.

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