The leadership team at the Society of Graduate Students is outraged to hear of the multiple reports of gender based and sexual violence alleged on Western’s campus during Orientation Week. We are additionally distraught at the tragic loss of Gabriel Neil, a first year Kinesiology student, who was brutally attacked near campus and subsequently died of his injuries. SOGS is here to support all of its constituent members, as well as advocate in solidarity with concerns relating to our undergraduate colleagues.
The safety of Western University students on campus requires urgent and collective action. Despite an attempt to host a dry and safe Orientation Week, Western ultimately failed in upholding this mandate and in its protection of its students.
University campuses continue to steep in an ongoing and rampant culture of gender based violence and sexual assault. Statistics Canada states that 41% of all sexual assault reports in Canada are submitted by post-secondary students. Furthermore, Western demonstrates an alarmingly high prevalence rate, with a 2018 Council of Ontario Universities report noting that over 70% of Western students have reported some form of sexual harassment.
Addressing gender-based and sexual violence, including sexual assault, is of utmost urgency and importance. Sexual assault, according to the Criminal Code of Canada (Section 271) “occurs if a person is touched in any way that interferes with their sexual integrity: this includes kissing, touching, intercourse and any other sexual activity without [their] consent.” Furthermore, the non-consensual administration of drugs, including date rape drugs, is legally classified as assault causing bodily harm by administering noxious things.
Any and all types of sexual assault must be recognized as traumatic and harmful actions which not only significantly impact the individual(s) involved, but also the community at large. We have a collective responsibility to each other.
CALLS TO ACTION
- We call upon Western University to begin immediate preparation and implementation of cohesive and mandatory gender-based and sexual violence (GBSV) education training modules, including trauma informed approaches, for all students, staff, and faculty. We demand that all materials related to this module be legally accurate and accessible public information, reviewed with a diverse range of stakeholders, including and especially survivors. Furthermore, we demand that the enrolment of all new students, both undergraduate and graduate, in courses at the university be contingent upon the successful completion of these mandatory modules.
- We call upon Western University to continue to clarify the internal processes related to gender-based and sexual violence reporting. The current process is unclear and it is difficult to find information on the steps taken, especially for incoming students.
- We call upon student, faculty, and staff associations and organizations across campus to hold Western University, and each other, accountable to providing a safe campus for all members of our community. Violent assaults, of any kind, have no place here and it is up to each of us to ensure that this is quickly and efficiently addressed. To show this support and community care, we ask any and all concerned individuals to sign the petition outlining our call to action.
- We call upon the campus community to stand in solidarity with and support the survivors of gender-based and sexual violence on campus by joining us at the UWO Sexual & Gender-Based Violence Walk-Out at University College Hill on Friday, September 17, 2021 at 12pm EST. Wear a mask. Wear teal, the colour of survivors of sexual assault.
- We urge students who have recently experienced gender-based or sexual violence to formally report their experiences. Reporting these violent and traumatic experiences will help our community better understand the culture of sexual violence that has baked itself into Western University traditions, like O-Week, underscoring the danger of the continuation of these misogynist traditions. We call upon Western University and the University Students’ Council to abolish or completely restructure O-Week immediately.
REPORTING SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON CAMPUS
We encourage and support survivors and community members to report incidents through a dedicated gender-based violence survivor support case manager on campus at 519-661-3568 or firstname.lastname@example.org. View Reporting and Counselling options HERE.
- Reports can be submitted online. If you do not wish to initiate a formal process or you haven’t decided, you may contact Western’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator to learn more about your options, including how to access supports, services or accommodations. It is imperative to formally hold Western University accountable for unsafe campus conditions.
- Reports to Western can be made through a dedicated gender-based violence survivor support case manager: 519-661-3568 or email@example.com, but we also encourage survivors to access additional resources as needed, such as St. Joseph’s Health Care Regional Sexual Assault Program at 519-646-6100 or ANOVA London at (519) 642-3000.
- Tamara Will is the Gender-based Violence & Survivor Support Case Manager at Western University. Tamara will provide you support regardless of if you were subjected to gender-based violence on- or off-campus, or before you came to Western. Tamara will listen and, with your consent, connect you to resources within the university and the community, explain reporting options, assist with safety planning and navigate academic and other accommodations. At no point, will you be required or pressured to follow a specific path. Tamara is located in Office 2150 of the Western Student Services Building. To connect with Tamara call 519-661-3568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Support a Survivor/Victim of Gender-Based and Sexual Violence: Anyone at Western who receives a disclosure about gender-based and sexual violence can report it by completing the Gender-Based & Sexual Violence Disclosure Form.
- Students in Residence: Contact the residence don, front desk, or residence life coordinator for assistance and access to free, confidential services with the residence counselling and student support team. The counselling team can be reached at email@example.com.
- ANOVA: Counselling for female-identified survivors of recent and historical experiences of gender-based and sexual violence. 24-hour crisis & support line: (519) 642-3000. For more details on Anova, click HERE.
- Talk4Healing is a free, culturally grounded and fully confidential telephone help line for Indigenous women throughout Ontario. Talk4Healing is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with services in Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree and English: 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
- GOOD2TALK: 24 hour student helpline at 1-866-925-5454
- CMHA Online Chat: reachout247.ca
Law Enforcement and Emergency Services
- In an emergency, call 911 or 519-661-6570. London Police can support investigations anywhere in London.
- Western’s Special Constable Service at 519-661-3300. Campus Police can only open an investigation for situations caused physically on campus (this includes on and within student residences).
- Joseph’s Health Care Regional Sexual Assault Program at 519-646-6100 available 24/7.
The Society of Graduate Students (SOGS)
- Contact the Society of Graduate Student Gender Concerns Commissioner at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can provide support, resources, and connect students with on or off campus resources unique to the student’s experience.
- Empower Me: Free remote mental health and wellness support 24/7 in Canada and the U.S. for Western University graduate students. Empower me is a multi-faith, multilingual service that pairs graduate students with trained professionals via telephone. Not happy with the counsellor you are matched with? Contact Empower Me to request a new counsellor based on individual preferences and needs. To access Empower Me, call 1-833-628-5589. Learn more about Empower Me
- More resources, including further community resources, can be found at https://sogs.ca/support-resources/#sexualviolence
- Western’s email to Med-Syd students urges those who have “been impacted or witnessed an incident of gender-based violence” to reach out to the building’s resident life coordinator at email@example.com.
The University Students’ Council (USC)
- Access mental health resources through https://www.mystudentplan.ca/purplecare/en/mywellness
kirstyn seanor, SOGS President; Danica Facca, SOGS VP Academic; Yousuf Hasan, SOGS VP Advocacy; Becky Horst, SOGS VP Finance; Effie Sapuridis, SOGS VP Student Services; Elizabeth Mohler, SOGS Accessibility Commissioner; Ana Moyer, SOGS Gender Concerns Commissioner; E. Victoria Bomberry, SOGS Indigenous Commissioner; Shannon “Thomas” Carnahan, SOGS Pride Commissioner; Denise Kamyuka, SOGS Racial Equity and Inclusivity Commissioner; Mo Sharifi, former SOGS Racial Equity and Inclusivity Commissioner, Deeplina Banerjee, SOGS International Graduate Student Issues Committee member; Laura Munoz-Baena, Gradcast Committee member; Heidi Kellett, SOGS Communications and Promotions Manager; Nick DeSumma, SOGS Governance & Policy Administrator; Jessica Elaine Reilly, SOGS Membership Services Manager; Raquel Rodrigues, SOGS Finance Manager; Marc Lalonde, Grad Club Manager
Read the PDF version HERE.