Sexual violence advocacy has always been a primary concern for the UASU VP Student Life. Last year, Katie Kidd’s advocacy resulted in the University committing to hire a Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator.
This year, your UASU has continued that advocacy and used new tactics to advocate not only for improved sexual violence prevention and response efforts but the creation of new projects that will help combat sexual violence on all U of A campuses.
To accomplish our goals in the past month your UASU executive has:
- Released a joint letter on sexual violence prevention and response that listed our 10 demands, and was signed by dozens of student representative associations including all faculty associations, residence associations, the Aboriginal Students Council, and the International Students Association. The Graduate Students’ Association and the Non Academic Staff Association also signed on.
- Following a limited response to our demands we staged a walkout of the General Faculties Council on November 29, which saw 40 student leaders leave the meeting in support.
- Additionally, we created a petition that we asked students, staff and faculty to sign in support of our 10 demands. That petition received over 1000 signatures, almost 85% of which came from the undergraduate student community.
These actions have created real wins for our campus community as the University has committed to substantially improving some of its sexual violence prevention and response efforts. We are hopeful that these commitments will be prioritized and implemented in a way that includes the perspective of our diverse student body.
These efforts are important because they show the power of direct action and what a unified student collective can do at the U of A. These wins were only possible because of the collaboration between the UASU, student representative organisations, faculty associations, residence associations, and the General Faculties Council.
Because of our advocacy efforts, the University has publicly committed to:
- Improving training for Residence Assistants by working with the Sexual Assault Center.
- Implementing the work of a new committee to develop campus-wide training focused on building consent and healthy relationships, how to support survivor disclosures etc.
- Making more resources accessible to Augustana Campus.
- Translating resources into French and making resources for Campus Saint-Jean.
- Improving both restorative justice practices and the sexual violence policy.
While we are happy that the University has committed to these actions, we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that these promises are fulfilled and we must continue to fight for the demands that have not yet been addressed. In the next few months, we will continue to advocate for these demands and more to build a culture of consent on campus and combat sexual violence in our campus community.
Follow @uasuexecutive on Instagram to see how you can get involved.
Talia Dixon, VPSL