Students Call for Promised Funding from Advanced Education After Province-Wide Survey on Sexual and Gender Based Violence

News Staff - Thu Aug 31, 2023

In response to the long-awaited province-wide data on sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) by the Ministry of Advanced Education, the University of Alberta Students' Union (UASU) is calling on the government to keep their promise to student leaders and fund the prevention of sexual violence on campuses accross Alberta. The University of Alberta Students Union stands with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) in calling for:

Funding for prevention campaigns aimed at reshaping the culture surrounding sexual and gender-based violence on all campuses. Funding directed to support the initiatives of Sexual Assault Centres or their equivalents across all campuses. In cases where such centers are absent, CAUS and the UASU urge the ministry to collaborate with these institutions to establish them. The formation of a dedicated Government of Alberta Working Group responsible for analyzing the report's findings and providing comprehensive recommendations to the Government to guide long-term strategies to combat campus sexual violence.

This call to action comes in response to the Ministry's commitment to student leaders that funding will be allocated once the data from the report becomes available. Given that half of post-secondary students in Alberta have encountered instances of sexual or gender-based violence since enrolling in their institutions, the next logical step is to provide immediate funding with a focus on prevention.

The new data reveals that students (especially disabled students and LGBTQ2S+ students) have experienced high rates of SGBV since becoming students, and few know how to file a report. Some survivors even report being ignored or silenced. CAUS's recommendations underscore the urgency of a unified approach to safeguarding students across institutions. This aligns with UASU's ongoing plea for immediate investment in prevention and better attention to identified gaps in support services for survivors. Despite much-needed policy reforms, students remain at risk in their day-to-day lives, and unclear about where to seek help and support.

"The data shows that this issue is one that institutions cannot handle alone,” says UASU VP Student Life Michael Griffiths. “Students need better resources and education about sexual and gender-based violence prevention. We are looking towards the Government of Alberta to set the tone, act on the data findings, and take this seriously. We need the provincial government and post-secondary institutions to prioritize prevention, and bridge the gaps in available support services for survivors. As students return to campus, we cannot afford to wait any longer for prevention and services to be funded.”

In response to these findings, the UASU re-emphasizes the importance of not only filling operational gaps in support for survivors at the institutional level, but also following through with significant investment in broader prevention methods province-wide.

"This is where the provincial government needs to step in,” says VP External Chris Beasley. “Generating this essential data was only the first step. Now it needs to be believed and acted on. The government has a duty to provide consistent funding to address this issue as promised. We need adequate support services, prevention campaigns, funded training and online-based training modules for campus staff and faculty, province-wide. We need to make sure effective and informed responses to disclosures are the norm if we ever hope to create a safer campus environment.”

While the UASU and the University have worked together to overhaul the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Policy and the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Disclosures Procedure, many other student needs related to SGBV have faced delays or gone unanswered.

“The clearest thing to come out of this,” says VP Student Life Michael Griffifths, “is that we desperately need a straightforward, plain-language guide so students know how to report and access support services. Students and survivors, regardless of whether they are at Augustana, Campus St-Jean or North campus, should be able to navigate the system. They need plain-language tools known and accessible to them at the very beginning of their time in post-secondary. I’m also working with the University to make sure they release our institution-specific data in a way that sets us up to address our community’s unique needs.”

Students are unyielding in their demand for a secure, safe learning environment. The data underscores the urgent need for action. The Government of Alberta must substantively support institutions in the creation of safer and more inclusive spaces for all students.

For reference

About the University of Alberta Students’ Union

The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Ari Campbell

External Relations Specialist

University of Alberta Students’ Union

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