The University of Alberta sent us a wonderful letter of support, for us to share with Concordia’s students, faculty, staff, and administrative bodies. In it, they talk about the ways in which having a sexual assault centre on their campus has directly benefitted the U of A community, and why they feel sexual assault centres are important for all colleges and universities:
To Whom It May Concern:
The University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre was established in September 1993 and consists of 3 full-time staff members: a Team Leader, Education Program Coordinator, and Volunteer Program Coordinator, and 25-30 volunteers. The Sexual Assault Centre provides support to approximately 170 survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment or stalking, and and provides 60-70 education presentations and training sessions on sexual violence.
The University of Albera has benefitted from having a sexual assault centre on campus in several ways:
– Student retention – many clients have discussed how they would have dropped out of University without the support they recieved from the Sexual Assault Centre. In addition, several volunteers over the years have discussed how they chose to come to the University of Alberta over other institutions due to the diversity of student services available. These students say it as beneficial that the University was being proactive in providing sexual assault services.
-Student engagement – the majority of volunteers have expressed that volunteering at the Sexual Assault Centre has provided them with a connection to other students, has enriched their university experience, and that they learned skills that carried over into their personal lives and their future career decisions. As a former volunteer once said, “I have found my time at the Centre to be exremely rewarding. The skills and information I have learned will be with me forever and my experiences here have indeed shaped my life.”
-Research on sexual violence – in 2001, the Sexual Assault Centre worked with an undergraduate student to identify the prevalence rate of sexual assault on campus. The Survey of Unwanted Sexual Experiences Among University of Alberta Students (LoVerso, 2001) was administered to 1,398 students and found that 21%, or 1 in 5 students, had experiences at least one unwanted sexual experience at some point in their life up until now. The median age was 20.
-Expertise to professors and administrators – the Sexual Assault Centre has provided confidential support and information to professors handling disclosures of sexual assault from a student, and to administrators handling allegations of sexual assault and.or sexual harassment within their faculty or department.
-Sexual assault prevention – in the 2010-2011 academic year, 50+ education presentations and training sessions on sexual violence were presented to various groups on campus. The information presented included statistics, definitions, myths, prevention tips and how to support a survivor of sexual violence. The 2001 survey found that those participants who had seen an education presentation by the Sexual Assault Centre prior to completing the survey adhered to sexual assault myths to a lesser degree than those who had not.
-Improved student services – the Sexual Assault Centre has provided yearly training sessions on how to handle disclosures of sexual assault to University of Alberta Protective Services (formerly Campus Security Services), Residence Services and the Peer Support Centre. These sessions have led to an increase confidence in how to support a student affected by sexual violence, and has improved the level of service provided to students. In addition, a Safe House to provide temporary accommodations for those experience a personal safety risk, intolerable living conditions or financial destitution was developed by the Sexual Assault Centre and Residence Services based on an identified need.
Having a sexual Assault Centre has been extremely beneficial to the University of Alberta campus, and has led students to see the University as diverse in its student services, and as being proactive, inclusive, and caring about students. I encourage you to contact the other Canadian Universities with a Sexual Assault Centre: McGill University, University of Victoria, and University of British Columbia to find out more about how a sexual assault centre could be beneficial to your University. I would also be happy to discuss the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre in more detail. I can be reached at (phone number and e-mail address redacted for privacy).
U of A Sexual Assault Centre, Team Leader
We’re always excited to hear about other sexual assault centre initiatives and the ways they benefit their communities. Check out the U of A Sexual Assault Centre’s web site here.