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Sexual violence prevention and response training released for USask community

Four sexual violence prevention and response training modules have been released and made available to students, faculty and staff at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

At the virtual information session held Wednesday, Patti McDougall, vice-provost of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience, said the launch of these modules is part of a multi-layered approach, which began in 2015 with the development of policy and procedures.  

“We need to get as many people as possible into these modules, understanding these modules and living the pieces of wisdom that are embedded in these modules so that we can keep going,” said McDougall. “We’re so far beyond where we started in terms of being clear about our line in the sand—the fact that we were not going to tolerate sexual violence on this campus—but I’ve always known, and many of you have told me, we have to unite in this to change behaviour.”

Tracy Spencer, manager of Student Affairs and Outreach at USask, led the development of the modules, which are part of the university’s work on education, awareness, and training, and manages the team responsible for supporting students who experience sexual violence. During the information session, Spencer shared statistics that pinpoint the need for the training modules.

Spencer said according to recent Canadian studies, one in three women and one in eight men experienced unwanted sexual behaviours in a public place, Indigenous peoples experienced sexual assault three times more than the non-Indigenous peoples, and only one in three Canadians understand what it means to give consent in sexual situations.

Another study cited by Spencer that found 71 percent of students at Canadian post-secondary schools witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized violence or behaviours, and 91 percent of women and 92 percent of men who were witnesses chose not to intervene, seek help, or take other action in at least one instance.

“Sexual violence continues to be a significant issue within our society and impacts millions of Canadians,” said Spencer. “We hope that you will be the difference and that you will take the training. What we really want is to create living, learning and working environments that are free of sexual violence, and so we challenge you and encourage you to think about what you can do with these modules, even within your units or your departments.”

Brittany Thiessen, a USask graduate student who contributed to the development of the modules, explained during the information session that the first module focuses on defining sexual violence and other important terms. Thiessen said the term sexual violence is being used more in recent years to serve as an umbrella term that includes sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual abuse.

The second module focuses on consent, the third module is on bystander intervention and the fourth module discusses how to properly respond to disclosures.

USask students, faculty and staff can enroll in the free course through Canvas.

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