'We let our students and families down': Western unveils sexual violence plan on eve of walk out
Fed up with sexual violence on and around Western University’s London, Ont. campus, students will push for change on Friday.
Students will stage a walk out before engaging in a march around campus to express support for survivors of sexual violence.
“We now have a channel to express how we feel regarding the incidents that happened this past weekend,” explains co-organizer Emily Poirier. “A lot of people hope this will bring about tangible change.”
London police are investigating allegations of up to 30 drug-related sexual assaults in a residence last weekend.
Unrelated, police have confirmed they were already investigating three complaints of sexual violence since the start of the semester.
“People are still very much afraid and on edge,” adds Poirier.
Less than a day before the walk out, Western administration unveiled a new Action Plan on Sexual Violence, including:
- all 5,300 students living in residences will be required to take in-person training on sexual violence, consent, and personal safety starting September 20.
- hiring up to 100 students to act as safety ambassadors in residences
- hiring four new special constables to enhance patrols until 3am.
- create a Task Force to address campus culture.
“We let our students and families down,” admits western President Alan Shepard.
Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities has also announced regulatory amendments for post secondary institutions in the province that update their sexual violence policies to include:
- Victims reporting in good faith will no longer risk punishment for violating alcohol/drug policies at the time the sexual violence occurred.
- Students reporting sexual violence will no longer be asked irrelevant questions involving their sexual history or sexual expression.
“These were recommendations that came forward to the government through ongoing consultations we’ve been having with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance,” explains Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop.
Poirier hopes that the walk out’s impact extends beyond Western’s campus.
“Make this not just a Western University change, but a change for all universities in Ontario, and hopefully it spreads to other places in Canada and North America.”
The walk out begins at noon with a gathering on University College hill.