In response to a campaign spearheaded by Concordia's Centre for Gender Advocacy, Concordia University has announced they are establishing a Sexual Assault Resource Centre.
With 1 in 4 students sexually assaulted during the course of their post-secondary education, over 80 per cent of who are women, this is a much-needed service.
"This is a victory for the entire Concordia community and will contribute to a broader cross-campus anti-violence movement that challenges rape culture," says Bianca Mugyenyi Campaigns and Programming Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy "We commend the University. This is a step forward and it is our hope that this integral service will be accessible to people of all genders and backgrounds."
Since the spring of 2011, The Centre for Gender Advocacy, its volunteers and students have been calling for the creation of a Sexual Assault Centre. The campaign began with a petition of over 1000 students, and an endorsement by the Concordia Student Union and Graduate Student Association, and was made visible on campus with posters, stickers and banners highlighting the need for services. In addition to popular education, the campaign also included the organization of a "Take Back the Night March" and a powerful public forum where Concordia community members disclosed their personal experiences of abuse and sexual assault.
"Our hope is that the Centre will offer students volunteer opportunities to support survivors and educate their peers about the importance of consent. Especially in social matters, there's probably no better way to learn than from your peers," said Julie Michaud, Administrative Coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy.
The Sexual Assault Resource Centre will be staffed by a social worker, who will provide counseling and coordinate activities along with student volunteers, who will offer peer support, community outreach and education initiatives. The Centre will provide free confidential services to students, staff and faculty.
"Our hope is that the Sexual Assault Resource Centre will make it clear that placing the onus on survivors to prevent their own sexual assaults is unacceptable," explains Julie Michaud.
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