What is Gender-Based and Sexual Violence?
Any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity and gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s Consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, cyber harassment and sexual exploitation.
March 19, 2019
Today, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities released a summary report on the findings from the Ontario Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey. Top-line results across the postsecondary sector are concerning and clearly demonstrate the need for more to be done to address sexual violence.
At Western, we are disappointed but not surprised, by the findings, including the number of respondents who reported experiencing or witnessing sexual violence. As recent media reports have indicated, sexual violence is pervasive in our society, and this includes our campus. Equally disturbing is the number of Western students who responded that they were unsure how to report incidences of sexual violence and were dissatisfied with Western’s response to complaints. We take your concerns seriously.
We are already working to gain a deeper understanding of student concerns from the complete survey data.
Western is committed to working with our students to improve our educational programs on sexual violence, to make reporting violence less onerous, and to enhance supports for survivors. To date, the university has created a Sexual Violence Policy, added a Sexual Violence Response Team, a Sexual Violence Response Coordinator position and developed a framework for sexual violence prevention and education training.
But more should be done – and more will be done. That starts with really listening to our students’ concerns and advice on how to reduce violence and support survivors.
As student safety is our top priority, we must work every day to address all forms of sexual violence experienced by our students. We must foster a campus culture where all students can thrive.
I am deeply thankful to those who shared their experiences through this survey and commit to them, and all others who call our campus home, our continued focus on this issue going forward.
September 10, 2016
On behalf of Western University, I wish to state our position on sexual violence, in particular in relation to a recent incident in which a disturbing message advocating sexual violence was written on the outside of a window of a rental property on Epworth Avenue near Western.
To be clear, sexual violence is not tolerated at Western. The message written on that window, which included the statement 'No means Yes', is a form of sexual violence. Its existence threatened the safety and security of our campus and wider community.
The incident was first brought to the attention of Glenn Matthews, Western’s Housing Mediation Officer, whose role is to resolve problems between students and neighbours. Glenn responded immediately and an investigation was initiated. A subsequent story quoting him appeared in the London Free Press.
First, Western takes full responsibility for not responding to the incident adequately. Given the content of the message, others should have been mobilized immediately to assist the Housing Mediation Officer when the incident came to light, including Western’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Education Coordinator, Campus Community Police Service and London Police Service, to ensure a thorough and appropriate response. To that end, the University is reviewing its response mechanisms in these kinds of serious situations and the current incident is being investigated by London Police, as well as Campus Police as a Code of Student Conduct violation.
It is also important to note Western’s Housing Mediation Officer is not positioned to represent the views of, or speak on behalf of, the University on matters relating to sexual violence and we regret he was put in that position. Glenn has since apologized and expressed sincere regret that his comments dismissed the seriousness of sexual violence and served to damage the University’s initiatives to eliminate such abhorrent activity: “The statement scrawled on the Epworth Avenue address is disgusting and there is no excuse for those words being posted. They have no place in our community, or anywhere. None of these outcomes were my intent and I am sorry my words caused harm or distress to anyone.”
Sadly, we continue to live in a culture that often trivializes sexual violence and blames survivors. This incident serves to reinforce the responsibilities each and every one of us must adopt regarding sexual violence as we work toward shifting that culture to one where consent is the norm.
The following sexual violence awareness and education initiatives have either recently taken place or were planned in advance, however this incident is a stark reminder that we must continue to prioritize sexual violence prevention at Western and work to actively educate our staff, faculty and students to be upstanders, individuals who act to reduce harm and address attitudes and behaviours that are sexually violent.
- In October 2015, Western University received a $381,000 grant from the Ontario Women’s Directorate to develop, research and implement an upstander training program designed to build knowledge, skills, attitudes and awareness of sexual violence on Ontario postsecondary campuses. This includes updating Western’s existing upstander training program for undergraduate students and developing new programs focused on graduate students and faculty/staff.
- More than 150 senior academic and administrative leaders attended a campus sexual violence education forum (April 2016).
- Western’s Centre for Education and Research on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) held a sexual harassment prevention training session for faculty and staff (July 2016).
- Western is currently reviewing the University’s sexual violence policy and undertaking various consultation efforts with members of Western’s community (September 2016).
- October 17 to 23 is Sexual Violence Awareness Prevention and Education Week on campus, during which a lunch and learn session is scheduled for faculty and staff and Jackson Katz, educator, author and filmmaker internationally renowned for his scholarship and activism on issues of gender and violence, will deliver a keynote.
- CREVAWC recently received a grant from the Ontario government to develop training for those responding to disclosures of sexual violence.
- Western is currently developing a sexual violence prevention and education program for faculty and staff that will be launched next year.
To learn more about sexual violence prevention and education at Western, please visit www.uwo.ca/sexualviolence.
September 10, 2016
Sexual violence is not tolerated at Western.
As we begin another year, it is particularly important to re-state this message. It is a message that we all must hear and understand.
At Western, we actively work to educate, challenge and influence our community to be upstanders. Upstanders are individuals who act to reduce harm and address attitudes and behaviours that are sexually violent. We all have a shared responsibility to create an environment where we are educated on issues pertaining to sexual violence, survivors are supported and incidents of sexual violence are addressed.
We cannot ignore that in North America there exists a culture that often trivializes sexual violence and blames survivors. Education programs at Western University are actively working to shift this culture on campus to one where consent is normalized and all individuals are respected through actions and words.
Sexual violence is any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. This includes sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape. It also includes sexual harassment, stalking, indecent or sexualized exposure, degrading sexual imagery, voyeurism, cyber harassment, trafficking and sexual exploitation.
As such, Western condemns any and all incidents that threaten our community through any of these behaviours or actions.
Further, Western is committed to a survivor-centric approach in dealing with sexual assault. From that basis, we also ensure that all acts of sexual violence within our community will be addressed and individuals who have committed an act of sexual violence will be held accountable.
Associate Vice-President, Student Experience
Information to know:
In recent years, Western has taken a number of steps to prevent and respond to sexual violence, including:
• Students have multiple ways they can report sexual violence, including to the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Coordinator, residence staff, Equity & Human Rights Services and Campus Community Police Service; and
• Orientation Week programming, for all first-year undergraduate students, includes several keynote addresses on the topic of consent, sexual violence and bystander intervention
• Western is represented at the vice-president level in ongoing discussions with other Ontario universities on best practices in preventing and responding to sexual violence.
• Student Health Services operates extended hours including Saturdays;
The university has a dedicated Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Committee that actively delivers education programs for the Western community. The committee includes voices from across campus, including representatives from Campus Community Police Services, Western’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, Communications & Public Affairs, Equity & Human Rights Services, Housing & Ancillary Services, Indigenous Services, School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, Student Development Centre, Student Health Services, Western International, as well as students and community partners. In 2015-2016 academic year members of this committee created a consent poster campaign and consent awareness video - that went viral and hosted two forums on the topic of consent and engaging men in sexual violence prevention. Plans for this year include another forum, training for staff and faculty and a dedicated campus wide Consent and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, scheduled for October 17-23.
March 31, 2016
Position marshals resources against sexual violence
Paul Mayne // Western News
Everyone has a role to play in Angela Treglia’s job.
“It’s all of our responsibilities to look at ways we can educate ourselves, and each other, on prevention,” said the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention Education Co-ordinator. “Sexual violence is not a woman’s issue; it affects all of us. We all need to be doing something.”
In the role for two months, Treglia previously worked as a Residence Manager and, more recently, as Program Co-ordinator for Housing and Ancillary Services, where her focus was on sexual violence awareness. She believes her new role is a natural progression from there.
“My passion lies in sexual violence prevention work,” said Treglia, who is on a one-year secondment. “It’s something that really connects for me. It’s a topic near to my heart.”
This new position is something the university, along with the University Students’ Council (USC) and Society of Graduate Students (SOGS), wanted to initiate for some time. Funding from the Ontario Women’s Directorate made the position possible.
“We’ve been pushing for a position like this to ensure that conversations happening on a committee level don’t stay within those meetings,” Alex Benac, USC Vice-President (Internal), said last fall. “We needed someone to enact organized, cross-campus campaigns and that’s where this role comes in.”
Previously, the subject of ‘sexual violence’ fell to a host of departments and individuals across campus. This new role provides a centralized approach for the university.
Treglia is not a counsellor. She acts as a resource for individuals who have experienced sexual violence, as well as for those supporting survivors of sexual violence, by helping them navigate the system. Her work focuses on supporting students who are survivors of sexual violence.
“The survivors who come in my office are such amazing and strong individuals; the resiliency you see and hear, the strength is awesome and very powerful for me,” she said.
While victim focused, Treglia said she would never turn anyone away. She also helps faculty and staff understand how they can better support their students.
“Sometimes survivors don’t want to come into my office because I am a stranger to them. Most will disclose to their friends before going to any sort of authority figure, such as myself, the police or administration,” said Treglia, who promises confidentiality in all her conversations. “Sometimes those friends will be wondering how they can offer support. They can contact me to help them be aware of the resources they can share, so no matter who a survivor comes out to, they get a compassionate response and they (friend) will know who to refer them to.”
Some grant money will be used to improve Western’s Upstander Programming, which aims to develop a culture of looking out for one other on campus. Through training programs, educational videos and awareness weeks, the plan is to have a campus community where students and staff are equipped with skills to intervene in any situation that may negatively impact the Western community.
The need is in the numbers. Studies suggest 67 per cent of all Canadians personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.
“It is not isolated and it is not a new issue. It has been around forever. We are seeing it talked about as more and more survivors are coming forward. That has a lot to do with decreasing the stigma,” Treglia said. “When you look at the statistics, they have stayed fairly consistent over decades. That is troubling. There is a serious issue that has been left unaddressed for so long.”
In recent years, Western has taken a number of steps to prevent and respond to sexual violence, including:
- Student Health Services operates extended hours including Saturdays;
- All first-year students attend an information session each September on their rights and responsibilities when it comes to sexual consent – this is on top of the information they receive in residences;
- The university has a dedicated Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Committee, a working group of the Safe Campus Advisory Partners committee. The committee includes voices from across campus, including representatives from Campus Community Police Services, Western’s Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children, Communications & Public Affairs, Equity & Human Rights Services, Housing & Ancillary Services, Indigenous Services, School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, Student Development Centre, Student Health Services, Western International, as well as students and community partners;
- Students have multiple ways they can report sexual violence, including to the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Co-ordinator, residence staff, Equity & Human Rights Services and Campus Community Police Service; and
- Western is represented at the vice-president level in ongoing discussions with other Ontario universities on best practices in preventing and responding to sexual violence.
In September 2014, Western adopted its first standalone Policy on Sexual Violence . Prior to that, sexual violence was – and still is to some extent – addressed by both the Code of Student Conduct and Non-Discrimination/Harassment Policy .
All this adds to the mix of a university taking the issue seriously.
“Not to take away from the work that has been done by so many over the years,” Treglia said, “but we are at a stage now where people, the government and university administration are getting involved. A lot of key pieces are now coming together.”
Get help between 8 a.m.to 4 p.m.
Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program, St. Joseph’s Hospital, London (directions)
Get help after hours
Call (519) 646-6100, press 0 ask for the nurse on call for the Regional Sexual Assault Program to be paged.
Western Campus Community Police Services
Lawson Hall, Rm. 1257 (24/7)
On-campus: 911 or (519) 661-2111 x83300 (non-emergency line)
*For reports of gender-based violence, Campus Police will connect you with the local police service.
Gender-Based Violence & Survivor Support Case Manager
Anova (formerly Sexual Assault Centre of London)
24 hour crisis & support line:
CMHA Crisis Centre & Reach Out
24/7 Crisis and Support Services
In person: 648 Huron St, London (directions)
Phone: (519) 433-2023
Equity & Human Rights Services
(519) 661-3334 (non-emergencies only)