By: Brianne Smith
On March 11, The Rideau River Residence Association launched a new task force targeting sexual violence and harassment on campus. It aims to improve safety conditions on campus, ultimately reduce the amount of sexual assaults and monitor how the university responds to incidents of this nature.
It is critically important to be able to walk around campus and feel secure no matter what time of day it is, whether you’re accompanied by a friend or alone. Of course it’s imperative that both men and women feel secure, but looking at the bigger picture, it is women who generally bear the brutality of attacks of this kind. Sexual assault is a gendered crime.
That is a fact.
According to Carleton University’s Equality Services website, 81% of victims of sexual assaults are women, while 99% of the perpetrators are men. It also notes that women between the ages of 15-24 and those who attend university or college are most at risk of being targeted.
These statistics may be terrifying, but they don’t need to stay that way.
On March 6, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a new three-year plan, focusing on the protection on the province’s females, and making it law for post-secondary schools across Ontario to take more incentive to make their campuses a safer place. The action plan, titled “It’s Never Okay”, outlines the $41 million initiative in a 35-page report.
The plan also forces colleges and universities to publicly report rates of sexual violence on their campuses.
I think this is a good idea, as it will bring awareness to any future issues and put further pressure on developing better safety measures at the schools.
As a 20-year-old female university student, I entirely fit the persona of someone most likely to be sexually assaulted. Knowing this, I am beyond pleased to see the changes Ontario is partaking in, to ensure the safety of their young women, and I commend the RRRA on their new task force.
Wynne’s report and the RRRA’s task force come at a time where the issue of sexual assault on Canadian university campuses is at the forefront. The spotlight incidents at the University of British Columbia, University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University have lead to an increase in sexual assault awareness and in the open conversation surrounding rape culture.
Knowing that Carleton has put new safety measures in place does put me at ease. However, I still think we have a long way to go until women stop having to check over their shoulders at night, and feel the need to have their cell phones within close proximity to themselves.