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Preventing Violence at StFX - Antigonish Women's Resource Centre

Preventing Violence at StFX

 

Preventing Violence against Women at St. Francis Xavier University (Preventing VAW at StFX), was a Campus Community Project that aimed to engage young people to prevent violence against women. It was funded by Status of Women Canada for two years. The project’s end date was July 2014; however, some of the project’s initiatives have continued.

Background

At StFX, as on many post-secondary campuses, the extent to which violence against women occurs and its impact on the student body remains largely hidden. Although some work has been done to document certain types of gendered violence, little has been done to assess the impact of this violence. Further, while some measures have been taken to raise awareness among the student body about gender-based violence, much more needs to be done to ensure that students have the support and safety services they need, that policies and procedures are in place to address violence when it happens, and that the whole university community is educated about how wider societal issues of gender impact institutional climate and individual constructions of gender and violence.

Through this project, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services Association (AWRC & SASA) worked collaboratively with StFX students, faculty, staff, and administration, using an intersectional, gender-based approach, to make visible the many forms that gendered violence takes and the impact it has on diverse members of the student body. Key to the project was the development and implementation of a comprehensive Campus Community Plan for addressing, reducing, and ultimately preventing gender-based violence at StFX. The development of the Campus Community Plan involved collaboration among individuals and groups on campus, as well as consultation with community-based agencies.

Campus Community Plan Objectives

Through the Campus Community Plan, Preventing VAW at StFX worked to:

  • Better meet the support needs of survivors and the safety needs of the campus community, appreciating that those from marginalized populations are particularly vulnerable to violence.
  • Increase education and prevention of violence against women among students, faculty, staff, and administration.
  • Improve, develop, and implement university policies and procedures addressing violence against women that reflect intolerance to all forms of violence and accountability of the administration to the wellbeing of the campus community.

Engagement of Young People

The development and implementation of the Campus Community Plan depended on the efforts and ideas of young people at StFX. This project was adapted to the needs of students and offered many opportunities where students could be leaders on campus and in the community, addressing the areas they believe are the most important to them to stop violence against women and gender-based violence. Through students engaging other students, the whole campus community was mobilized to take action.

Project Focuses

  • Collaborative Partnerships with Students and Other Campus Community Members
  • Research of Student-Based Experiences of Violence against Women
  • Action on Student-Based Issues of Violence against Women: Awareness Campaigns & Education Programs – “Bringing In The Bystander”

Collaborative Partnerships with Students and Other Campus Community Members

  • 30 students on the Student Team, UnSilence the Violence
  • 2 Research Assistant students
  • 2 Summer students
  • 6 Service Learning students
  • 20 Advisory Committee members, representing on campus and off campus partners
    • StFX Partners
      • Students’ Union
      • Health & Counselling
      • Student Life – Student Conduct, LGBTQ, Aboriginal, Black, and International Student Advising
      • Residence Life
      • Safety & Security
      • Human Rights & Equity
      • Academics – Nursing and Women’s & Gender Studies
    • Antigonish Partners
      • Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services Association
      • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program
      • Naomi Society
      • RCMP
  • 1 Independent External Evaluator
  • 1 Research Consultant from StFX
  • In connection with 19 other campus community projects across Canada (Status of Women Canada)
  • In partnership with Students Nova Scotia – representing Students’ Unions at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Mount Saint Vincent, and Saint Mary’s Universities

Research of Student-Based Experiences of Violence against Women

Campus Safety Audits/Walkabouts

o   41 campus community members, mostly female students, participated in Campus Safety Audits/Walkabouts from October 2012 to January 2013 to offer insight as to how the campus community experiences safety or the lack of safety, exploring the physical and social environments of campus.

o   One 40-page report of the results and recommendations was prepared.

  • 30 copies were made and distributed to key stakeholders on campus. The report is available at the university library in print and digital form. Further, presentations for Safety & Security, Facilities Management, Students’ Union, and the public were held to advocate for the recommendations.

Focus Groups

o   40 campus community members, mostly female students, participated in Focus Groups from January to March 2013 to offer insight as to how the campus community understands violence.

o   One 44-page report of the results and recommendations was prepared.

  • 30 copies were made and distributed to key stakeholders on campus. The report is available at the university library in print and digital form.

Surveys

o   193 students participated in surveys in April 2013 to offer insight as to how students experience violence and the impacts of violence. Of the 193 students, about 25% experienced violence against women and gender-based violence. A draft summary was prepared and distributed to Advisory Committee members of the project.

Policy Guide & Recommendations

o   A Policy Guide and Recommendations were created.

* Project representation on Steering Committee for Students Nova Scotia’s Report on Sexual Assault on Campuses (http://studentsns.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01-12-sexual-assault-report-Final.pdf) and Social Media Campaign (http://morethanyes.ca/) released in January and February 2014

Action on Student-Based Issues of Violence against Women: Awareness Campaigns & Education Programs – “Bringing In The Bystander”

About 5,300 students and campus community members were involved in awareness campaigns

  • Homecoming Poster Campaign
  • Take Back The Night Rally and March
  • What is Violence Workshop
  • 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Poster Campaign and Coffeehouse
  • One Billion Rising Video & Resistance Dance – http://youtu.be/3_nyJJcYTl8
  • O-Week Hydration/Information Stations and Tumblers
  • Students’ Union Violence against Women Awareness Week Activities
  • Women’s History Month Poster Campaign
  • X-Men Football Halftime Show
  • Hypersexualization Workshop
  • December 6th/National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women Event
  • International Women’s Week/Day Activities
  • Stigma Video – http://youtu.be/-HbMAvJYqg8

St. Francis Xavier University is “Bringing In The Bystander” to address violence against women

“Bringing In The Bystander” teaches bystanders how to intervene safely and effectively, asserting that “everyone in the community has a role to play in ending sexual violence.” It’s based on founding work on bystander prevention by Jackson Katz (Mentors in Violence Prevention). Evaluation results show the effectiveness of the program for increasing participants’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours regarding responses to sexual violence.

  • 115 people from campus communities in Nova Scotia – Acadia, Cape Breton, Mount Saint Vincent, Saint Mary’s, Dalhousie, and StFX Universities – were trained as trainers in Sept. 2013 and Jul. 2014
    • 72 were students and campus community members at StFX and in Antigonish. (Additionally, 30 attended a public event on the program in September 2013.)
  • 503 participants (students and campus community members StFX, CBU, NSCC Campuses, and in Antigonish and Sydney) have been engaged in the program since the training of trainers
    • 40 Residence Advisors; 26 Education Students; 142 Student-Athletes; 34 Student-Security
  • Thus far, 648 students and campus community members have been involved

Justice Minister Peter MacKay launches Bringing In The Bystander violence intervention program, highlights work of Preventing Violence Against Women at StFX

Saint Mary’s Twitter scandal prompts consent talks – The CBC

Program to target sexualized violence – The Chronicle Herald

Study probes safety at StFX – The Casket

Preventing Violence against Women at StFX Project Findings

To better understand violence, the Preventing Violence against Women at StFX Project has identified student experiences and issues of violence against women and gender-based violence through conducting campus safety audits/walkabouts, focus groups, and surveys from 2012 to 2013. From students, we know that:

Safety and Health

  • Women feel less safe than men, particularly when alone, when it is dark out, and when there is high consumption of alcohol and drugs (at events or big parties). Alcohol was the most cited reason for feeling unsafe. Other reasons for feeling unsafe include sexism, homophobia, and partner violence.
  • In addition to lighting, other infrastructure safety issues that need to be addressed are: adding crosswalks, adding sidewalks, pruning trees and bushes, maintaining roadways and pathways, improving the flexibility of the Students’ Union drive home service (Drive U), and increasing the student-led patrol service (X Patrol).
  • Many women and men do not know where to go for help in emergencies.
  • Many agreed that support services are important for survivors, but what support services are actually available was generally unknown.
  • It was suggested that all staff be trained in basic response and that there be more extensive training for those who may receive disclosures of violent experiences from students.

Policy

  • Students noted the lack of communication from the university re: sexual assault.
  • Students remarked that there is little student input when it comes to developing policies that directly impact them. It was suggested that the administration is unresponsive when students ask such critical questions and further, that there are not accessible and comfortable spaces where students can ask such questions.
  • Students and other campus community members are not well aware of the policies; further, the policies are not written in an accessible way. Knowledge of the reporting and discipline procedures (and the oversight of such procedures) is largely unknown.
  • Education and prevention activities must be incorporated into policies.
  • Campus and community collaboration is an important piece in addressing and preventing violence against women and gender-based violence. This must be incorporated into policies.

Experience/Impact

  • Some rape myths, particularly those that are victim-blaming and perpetrator-deflecting, are prevalent in our campus community.
  • Both women and men have said they heard, witnessed, or experienced discrimination on campus due to sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity/race, and pressures around sex and alcohol/drugs.
  • The main reasons for feeling marginalized, silenced, or otherwise excluded at StFX are gender identity and socio-economic status.
  • The main reasons for feeling vulnerable to violence at StFX are gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Students indicated that sexual harassment, street harassment, sexual coercion, and unwanted touching/fondling/kissing are acts of sexual violence they feel most at risk of experiencing at StFX.
  • About 40% of students responded yes to knowing someone who has experienced violence against women or gender-based violence.
  • About 25% of students indicated personal experiences of violence against women and gender-based violence themselves – about 91% were female and 9% were male.
    • Primary reasons for not reporting sexual violence include: “I didn’t want people to know”, “I didn’t want to expose my perpetrator”, “I didn’t want an investigation”, “I wanted to remain anonymous”, “I was worried people would judge”, “I was worried people would think it was not a big deal”, and “Perpetrator was in my group and I was worried that I would lose those friends”.

Reports

  • Final Evaluation Report click here
  • Policies & Procedures Guide click here
  • Policy & Procedures Guide Appendix click here
  • Walkabout Report click here
  • Focus Group Report click here
  • Discussion Group Report click here

 

 

 

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