The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre has received a $26,000 grant from the provincial government to support the creation and development of support groups for survivors of sexual assault and marginalized groups.
The grant was provided by the Civil Forfeiture Office in partnership with the Victim Services and Crime Prevention Division of the Ministry of Justice through their provincial strategy, A Vision for a Violence Free BC — also known as Violence Free BC. The strategy seeks to combine immediate action with a long-term vision for ending all manifestations of violence against women in BC, including sexual violence.
“In the past few years, there has been an increased awareness of sexual assault on campus and more people are accessing our services. With this greater demand, we found that we need to find new community-based strategies to support the needs of campus members,” said Ashley Bentley, manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC).
In order to better support students on campus, SASC is hoping to allocate most of the grant funding primarily to expand their services in the areas of support and empowerment of survivors of sexual violence and to increasing their staff.
A small portion of the funding will also be allocated to education awareness. SASC is currently in the process of planning a two-day conference in collaboration with the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia and the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform at UBC. The conference will aim to change the conversation of sexual harassment on college campuses by using an intersectional and de-colonial approach.
Through the conference, SASC is hoping to address critical practices for approaching educational plans, policy development and protocol related to sexual violence.
“I think the topics of sexual assault and legislation responses to sexual assault are very hotly debated at the moment. A lot of Canadian campuses are now in the stage of developing policy and protocols to respond to sexual violence,” said Bentley. “While a lot of schools in eastern Canada have been already developing these pieces for a couple of years, BC is a little behind. We are hoping to address good practices for approaching educational plans, policy development and protocol.”
Efforts to proactively develop responses to sexual assault include the proposal of Bill M205 by Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver. This bill would require post-secondary institutions in BC to have a mandated response to sexual violence.
“We recognize that British Columbia has a very diverse group of campuses — all with different groups on campus, different capacities, sizes, funding and spaces. We really want to have an event that meets the needs of all those campuses. We would like to provide campuses with the tools that they need to be effective at responding to sexual violence,” said Bentley.