Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec adopts online platform to report sexual violence

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In an effort to combat sexual violence on campus, Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec has launched an online platform that will allow students, faculty and staff to report their experiences of sexual violence.

The bilingual platform will allow people to report sexual harassment, misconduct and assault without having to speak directly with a member of the university.

It took a year and a half to get the program up and running, said Georgia Lapierre, one of the co-chairs of the student sex culture committee at Bishop’s who came up with the idea.

“We wanted to remove barriers to reporting survivors,” Lapierre said. “We had heard from many students that they didn’t feel comfortable reporting to college and talking with someone, but still wanted people to hear their stories and they wanted action taken.”

The university has come under fire for its handling of sexual violence on campus, with the administration calling an emergency town hall in November after the words “He raped me.” I reported. He is still in my class. bridge near the school.

The platform will also allow people to contact the university’s Sexual Assault Response Office, which offers support services and referrals to other outside resources. Students can also file formal complaints through the office.

“A student can come in and create their own story of what happened, and they take full ownership of what’s going on at the time. They decide when and if they want to share it with us, and they can do it from the comfort of your home,” said Stine Linden-Andersen, Dean of Student Affairs.

The platform – Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors (REES) – will be able to track if multiple complaints are filed involving the same person.

The university can then use this information to perform risk assessments and modify protocols on campus to keep people safe, Linden-Andersen said.

People will also be able to submit anonymous reports by concealing their identity and that of the person who harmed them.

9:25Bishop’s REES – A new alternative for reporting sexual violence

Bishop’s University is launching a new online platform to report sexual violence on its campus and provide survivors with a safer space to speak out and seek support. 9:25

“That will of course help inform our statistics, and it will also help us narrow down other areas of prevention that we need to identify,” Linden-Andersen said. “It’s only sent once a semester to really make sure that survivor can remain anonymous.”

Data collected through the platform will go to herself and Bishop’s Sexual Assault Response Office Coordinator.

Lapierre hopes this will give the university a better understanding of the extent of the problem on and off campus.

Few students report their experiences

According to Statistics Canada, 71% of post-secondary students surveyed in 2019 said they had witnessed or experienced unwanted sexual behavior in the past year, although less than one in 10 said they had spoken about their experience with someone. person associated with their school.

Bishop’s University has come under pressure to do something about sexual misconduct on campus. (Marie-Hélène Rousseau/Radio-Canada)

A survey of 188 Bishop’s students by the Sexual Culture Committee last February showed a similar trend.

Of the 62 students who said they had experienced some form of sexual violence, only four said they had reported their experience to security or the university’s sexual assault response office, and only one filed a complaint. official.

Lapierre said students are often hesitant to disclose their experiences because they don’t believe action — whether it’s expulsion or removal of the person from a class — will be taken.

“From what we’ve heard from survivors who have reported and gone through this process, that’s not really what’s happening,” Lapierre said. “There is so little trust in the system at the university right now.”

She also wants to see more transparency from the university about the number of sexual abuse disclosures it receives each year, and hopes this platform can change things in the future.

“I think the university should take advantage of this system, create and compile data,” she said.

Bishop’s is the first Quebec university to use the platform, joining others including Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, University of Windsor and University of Winnipeg .

The data collected by the platform is encrypted and does not track the identifying addresses of its users, said Mary Lobson, the platform’s founder.

The platform is accessible by going to https://reescommunity.com/campuswhere Bishop’s can be selected from the site drop-down list.

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