March 30, 2016 - 6:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - A Thompson Rivers University student who has taken on her own school for how it handles sexual assaults on campus has become a central supporter to new province-wide legislation on the issue.
Jean Strong, a fourth year journalism student at Thompson Rivers University, is publicly supporting a Green Party private members bill aimed at supporting survivors of sexual assault on campus.
“The main reason I’m involved is not that I’m not afraid, I just happen to be the one willing to speak about it,” she says. “It made a good partnership.”
She met with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver to discuss the bill and in a post she wrote for the Green Party website, she says he sought her input.
Weaver’s Post-Secondary Sexual Violence Policies Act, unlike many private members bills, actually has a shot at becoming law since Premier Christy Clark agreed to act on it. Weaver spearheaded the issue in response to news of sexual assaults at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria and how the universities handle the issue.
The law would require universities to create policies to prevent sexual violence and support victims. That’s something Strong knows too well is badly needed. She made plenty of noise about sexual assault on university campuses when she was assaulted twice in her first year at the university in 2012 and wrote about her experience dealing with Thompson Rivers University afterwards.
When she sought help, she says she was told by a school counsellor she should consider moving to a different university. Her complaints helped force the university to form a task force to investigate.
The B.C. bill follows similar legislation in Manitoba and Ontario and is designed to make universities legally responsible for creating policies which would prevent sexual violence and support survivors. Strong says there’s concern schools don’t properly deal with sexual assaults because administrations are worried about the reputations of their schools. Provincial legislation would create a standard universities must meet.
“I think that it’s really necessary legislation so that all the schools will be on an even playing field,” she says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016