Sexual Violence Bystander Intervention Training Program has successful week of training

Facilitators educated students throughout Orientation Week on how to be an active bystander

Current Sexual Violence and Bystander Awareness Student Coordinator Lea Keren.
Current Sexual Violence and Bystander Awareness Student Coordinator Lea Keren.  
Photo supplied by Lea Keren

After expansion and additional hiring, the Sexual Violence Bystander Intervention Training Program received a positive reception to training throughout Orientation Week.

The program, originally spearheaded by Queen’s alumnus Claire Gummo, is currently run by Lea Keren, Comm ’17, former AMS Social Issues Commissioner and current Sexual Violence and Bystander Awareness Student Coordinator.

The program aims to provide students with the knowledge and skills to intervene before, during or after an incident of sexual violence. This year the program expanded their sessions to include training on how to respond to a disclosure of sexual violence.

Keren told The Journal via email that students are often the first point of contact for survivors of sexual assault on campus. She emphasized that the response these survivors receive upon confiding has “profound effects on their likelihood of accessing additional resources and their overall healing.”

“We believe that equipping students with the tools to give empathetic and validating support to survivors/victims really helps to emphasize how we can have a positive role after an incident takes place,” Keren added.

The revamped training also aimed to be more intersectional and inclusive.

“Acknowledging these realities means validating the experiences of marginalized voices and the injustices that they experience at disproportionate rates, which are so often left out of mainstream narratives,” Keren wrote.

Going into this school year, the program only had two returning facilitators, so several more were hired and trained prior to the start of Orientation Week. The now 13 facilitators learned from a variety of experts, including Director of the Human Rights Office Stephanie Simpson, and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator Barbara Lotan.

The program facilitators are students from a variety of backgrounds and identities, thus allowing for a diverse range of students to deliver the training.

Rector Cam Yung has been a program facilitator for two years and spoke to The Journal about the many training sessions conducted throughout Orientation Week to orientation leaders, residence dons and various AMS staff.

“From a facilitator’s perspective, the training is a really great opportunity for our students to understand the definitions of what sexual violence and sexual assault are, and as well as to learn about what consent is,” he said.

Keren also stated that the sessions were “extremely productive,” and that she felt students “walked away with tangible strategies that they can use to combat an issue that sometimes feels large and daunting.”

Going forward, Keren and Yung both hope the program will reach more students throughout the school year and that more student groups will book sessions.

“This training is quite helpful in terms of providing strategies and techniques for our students not to be passive bystanders, but to be active bystanders,” Yung said. “[It’s about] how they can go and change the rape culture that we have on campus, in order to ensure that our students feel included and safe during their time here at Queen’s. I think that’s quite important.”

For support, resources, or additional information, visit the Queen’s University Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Resources page at:

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