October 11, 2016 - 9:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - The administration at Thompson Rivers University is taking steps to improve how the institution supports sexual assault survivors following a report from the university’s sexual assault prevention task force.
Task force members published 14 recommendations in a report to the university’s board of governors including the development of a confidential disclosure program and hiring a new sexual assault prevention manager. Most recommendations involved how to implement such a policy.
Dean of students Christine Adam says while some of the recommendations are already complete, others are waiting for policy approval, or for the newly hired sexual violence prevention manager Amber Huva to provide input.
The task force was created in 2015 to address the lack of a sexual assault policy on campus. One of the criticisms was the lack of data collected by the university. Adam says they will now collect anonymous information about how often the sexual violence supports at TRU are being used.
Between 2009 and 2013 the university administration only recorded one sexual assault. A survey in 2013 of 937 students at TRU showed 1.4 per cent of female and 1.2 per cent of male respondents believed they were victims of sexual assault.
The same survey was done earlier this year with more than 1,300 students from TRU. While the number of men reporting sexual penetration declined to 0.6 per cent, the number of reports from women increased to two per cent.
Female students in the 2016 survey also reported increased incidents of sexual touching without consent, up to 10.8 per cent from 7.2 per cent.
The averages at TRU were slightly lower than the average across 41 Canadian universities that participated in the survey.
The biggest issue for TRU, according to Adam, is a lack of communication to students about the exisiting support system. She says the new position will help address that, along with a new policy that will be in front of the school's governing body in December. The province is also taking action to make sure all universities in B.C. have legislation similar to what is being presented at TRU.
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