The Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey is the first province-wide survey shared with post-secondary students about sexual violence in Ontario. The initiative has launched in efforts to study and address sexual violence and harassment concerns of students in post-secondary institutions.
All full-time students at both private and public colleges and universities are asked to participate. The survey is open to university students from February 26 to March 26, and for college students from March 5 to April 2. Yanni Dagonas from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development explains the details of the survey:
The survey was designed in collaboration with students, experts from the Roundtable on Violence Against Women, and the postsecondary education sector. Using existing sexual violence surveys as models, the panel made recommendations regarding the sections and questions that should be included in the Ontario survey.
This survey is part of It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. The plan serves as the foundation of a public education and awareness campaign to change attitudes and address behaviour that is violent, harassing, unwanted or inappropriate.
The Action Plan shares concrete steps on how to provide more supports for survivors, and to make their environments safer and more responsive to complaints of this nature. As well, post-secondary institutions are required to publicly report incidents of sexual violence, and explain what initiatives they are using to address such violence and harassment.
The goal of the survey is for government and post-secondary institutions to be able to understand the experiences of Ontario’s post-secondary education students and their perceptions of the visibility, awareness, and willingness of their institutions’ efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence and harassment.
Research shows that 1 in 5 women who go to university in Ontario will be sexually assaulted while completing her degree. Sexual violence is also persistently under reported. The survey on sexual violence was created to enable safer environments for all students on Ontario campuses.
The Action Plan will require all colleges, universities and private career colleges to implement stand-alone policies to address sexual violence affecting students. Those policies will be reviewed at least once every three years. The results obtained from this survey are intended to enhance a college or university’s understanding of its students’ perceptions of and experiences with sexual violence.
Under the Action Plan, institutions have the responsibility and flexibility for making sure policies are not only working to help survivors on their own campus, but also to create a better campus environment for all students on their campus. The information from this survey will help colleges and universities build awareness of sexual violence and harassment, improve their policies and processes, and improve their services and supports for survivors of sexual violence.
What to expect
The information from this survey will help colleges and universities build awareness of sexual violence and harassment, improve their policies and processes, and improve their services and supports for survivors of sexual violence.
Creating a better campus environment demands engaging students in the development of policies, protocols, and awareness and prevention campaigns before, during, and after they are developed and implemented.
The survey will collect data that will allow institutions to evaluate and improve their responses to incidents of sexual violence, as well as the effectiveness of their sexual violence policies, awareness programs, support services, and accommodations.
The panel reminds students that all the information gathered is confidential. Survey results will be shared with institutions in the summer of 2018 and some results will be made publicly available after.