Province of Ontario launches sexual violence survey for students

Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey to provide province with insight into sexual violence on campus

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In an effort to better understand the climate of sexual violence on campuses, the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has launched a province-wide survey that will ask students about their experiences and understanding of sexual violence.

The largest post-secondary survey ever distributed in Ontario, the “Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey” is provincially mandated, and has been sent to 650,000 students attending university or college. 

Implemented by research firm CCI Research on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD), the survey was sent out starting on Feb. 26, and will be open for completion until March 26. According to the official survey website, the five main themes the survey focuses on include “knowledge of sexual violence supports, services and reporting procedures, perceptions of consent, experiences of sexual violence, satisfaction with institutional responses to sexual violence [and] behaviour of bystanders.” 

The survey has arisen from a 2016 amendment to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act and the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. As a result of the amendment — which mandates that educational institutions have sexual violence policies that are constantly checked for their effectiveness — this survey was developed as a means of facilitating change via a survivor-centric approach to data collection.

Upon collection of the information, the MAESD will release a report that summarizes the results. These will inform policy changes and highlight areas of improvement for campus support services. 

The survey is anonymous and confidentiality will be protected throughout the process. Students who complete at least 60 per cent of the survey will receive a $5 gift certificate towards Indigo, Amazon or Starbucks. 

Along with the AMS and Society of Graduate and Professional Studies (SGPS), the University has collaborated on how they will distribute the survey on Queen’s campus, as well as encourage participation from students. 

According to AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Palmer Lockridge, the student government is focused on providing resources and support to students who do the survey. 

Since it delves into sensitive subject matter, Lockridge said the questions could be potentially be triggering. In this case, the AMS encourages students to seek support from Student Wellness Services, the Peer Support Centre or other resources available both on and off campus, all of which are also included on the survey’s landing page. 

Lockridge also informed The Journal that while province-wide results will be given, he isn’t yet sure if institution-specific results will be released. Either way, he says the information will prove incredibly valuable to Queen’s. 

“We’ll gain a lot of data we didn’t have access to before, and it’ll allow us to go back and change the policies that exist on all of our campuses, and make them more survivor-centric and accessible for students in general,” Lockridge said. “And then also it’ll allow us to create new support programs on campus because there might be areas that we’re currently missing and that’s going to be identified through this survey.” 

SGPS President Adam Grotsky told The Journal that SGPS student advisors have been informed of the survey’s circulation and are aware students may be coming to them seeking support. 

He explained the SGPS worked with the Department of Student Affairs to include student input and ensure a “fair reflection for students, in terms of balancing the need to get information with also respecting the privacy and sensitivity of the issue.” 

Grotsky stated the results of this survey will be vital in driving new policy and better support resources. He hopes to see the information taken seriously as well as actively utilized. 

“[It’ll] be a useful way to gather information about Queen’s and figure out how we can better address instances of sexual violence on campus both from a prevention and reaction perspective,” he said. “Ultimately the goal is to collect information that will help us improve the climate on campus when it comes to sexual violence.” 

Corrections

March 7, 2018

The headline has been updated to reflect that the survey has been implemented by the Province of Ontario. 

The Journal regrets the error.

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