BY PAXTON CASELEY
Sexual violence affects all of us. You may know a friend, family member, or a colleague who was subjected to this act of violence. Sexual violence does not discriminate against gender, race, class, age, or identity - it can happen to anyone.
This year, the UPEI Student Union has worked tirelessly to work with the university to create and implement a stand-alone sexual violence policy that will ensure survivors are protected throughout the complaint process.
However, not all campuses in P.E.I. currently have sexual violence policies; thus, for many students who experience sexual violence in our province, they have little recourse. We believe that, although UPEI has taken important steps to addressing campus sexual violence, it is not enough that one post-secondary institution in P.E.I. is pursuing a policy.
On October 18th, 2017, the P.E.I. Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development passed a motion stating that the government would, “enact provincial legislation to ensure external oversight of sexual violence policies at its post-secondary institutions.”
Legislation mandating all post-secondary institutions in the province to have stand-alone policies would not only provide alternative forms of justice and accommodations for survivors, but would also facilitate conversations and education on topics such as consent, rape culture,
and the intersectional impacts of sexual violence among other related subjects which would ultimately serve to be proactive and preventative.
OurTurn UPEI Chapter is part of a national student-led organization to end campus sexual violence through prevention, support, advocacy at all levels of government. Working together with the P.E.I. Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, UPEISU, and OurTurn (National) we have written an open-letter to the Government of Prince Edward Island advocating for the creation of legislation to mandate all campuses to pass sexual violence policies.
In our letter, we argue that this legislation must include minimum standards that must be included in all of the
campus policies created. Additionally, we ask our provincial government to create oversight mechanisms to hold institutions accountable for violating the rights of survivors or failing to create safer campuses.
These minimum standards and oversight mechanisms are
survivor-centric, but also utilize prevention tactics to take action against the one-handed statistics that we all know so well in order to prevent this violence from being perpetuated.
This is not just a student problem. This is something that affects the well-being and health of our communities, families, and the rising leaders and contributors of our younger generations. P.E.I. has the unique opportunity to be a national leader in sexual violence prevention.
As of March 2018, only four Canadian provinces currently possess such legislation - British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Ontario.
I encourage you to sign the letter. If not for yourself, then for your friend, family member or child. Together we can take a stand to create a safer and healthier Prince Edward Island - for all of us.
Or visit the OurTurn UPEI Chapter Facebook page; or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
-Paxton Louise Caseley, Chair of OurTurn UPEI Chapter and Director of Mobilization at OurTurn National