“We clearly have a cultural problem”: Western University launches action plan amid reports of student assaults – London | The Canadian News

Western University is admitting a “cultural problem” and is launching a new action plan in the wake of multiple reports of sexual assault in the first week of school.

The university released the new action plan and plans for a Task Force on Sexual Violence and Student Safety on Thursday. This comes less than a week after social media reported that 30 or more students may have been drugged and / or assaulted at Medway-Sydenham Hall.

This news also comes on the heels of three other separate reports of sexual assault involving four female victims, which are being investigated by London police.

Police have said they are working with Western University to investigate all allegations of sexual assault.

A statement from Western said the task force’s goal is to help them better understand and end sexual violence and create a college culture where these unacceptable actions are avoided.

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“This has been a tremendously difficult time for our students and the entire Western community. We clearly have a cultural problem that we must address, “said President Alan Shepard.

“We disappoint our students and their families.”

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Part of the security changes includes requiring mandatory in-person training on sexual violence for all students living in the residence starting September 20.

The university will also hire 100 undergraduates and college graduates as safety ambassadors to assist during the night shift and improve campus security during the night shift.

Another element is to re-establish the ability of second-year teachers (upper-grade students who volunteer as mentors for incoming students) to access and support first-year students in residencies.

Sophomores provide peer tutoring for freshmen and were unable to live in residence this year to guarantee spots for all freshmen.

The school says that 164 teachers (floor supervisors) live in the residence, as well as 11 interns to support the first years.

Part of the education students will receive will be related to consent, personal safety, training for bystanders, gender-based violence, and sexual assault.

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More details on the task force, training modules and other security measures will be announced in the coming days.

“It is good that they have come up with a plan to address what is happening. It is very important to take action, but the suggestion for action is only as good as the implementation, ”Jennifer Dunn, LAWC’s executive director, told Global News on Thursday.

“We need to make sure that everything that we are missing really happens.”

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According to a 2019 report from Statistics Canada, 71 percent of Canadian postsecondary school students witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviors in a postsecondary setting in 2019.

“Sexual assault is still the only violent crime that is not decreasing, I am glad that displacement is talking about it and the country,” Dunn said.

According to a Council of Ontario Universities (COU) survey, between the 2017-2018 school year, 71% of Western University students reported being sexually harassed, while 32% reported being sexually assaulted.

“Part of the action plan is that all students will be required to take mandatory sexual violence safety training and this is very important, but there is a problem, and it is a problem in our society at large,” Dunn told Global News.

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Dunn said the kind of training and support needed should start before a sexual assault occurs and not after.

“It must start at a primary level, boys and girls must learn that women and men have the abundance to live a life free of violence.”

Anyone who has experienced sexual or gender-based violence can contact the Anova Crisis Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 519-642-3000, LAWC 519-432-2204, or the Helpline for abused women at 519-642-3000.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



Reference-globalnews.ca

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