Funding backs Western-led sexual violence prevention project

Western has received a significant grant from the Ontario Women’s Directorate to fund a new program aimed at preventing incidences of sexual violence on Ontario postsecondary campuses.

The $381,000 grant will fund the Building an Upstander Culture to Prevent Sexual Violence at Ontario Post-Secondary Institutions project, designed to build knowledge, skills, attitudes and awareness of sexual violence among all members of campus communities.

“This program will help institutions be better equipped to prevent and respond to issues of sexual violence on campus,” said Jana Luker, Associate Vice-President (Student Experience). “A major part our success will be our ability to influence a cultural change and a healthy recognition of egalitarian gender roles, gender equality, healthy relationships and sexuality.”

Western is partnering with the University of Guelph, Queen’s University, Trent University, Ryerson University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, York University, Fanshawe College, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Middlesex-London Health Unit to leverage resources from the existing Draw the Line and It starts with you, it stays with him campaigns, and embed them into existing resources such as Upstander Training and sexual violence education campaigns.

This will include filling gaps related to reaching diverse populations such as Indigenous, international and LGBT students, and conducting comprehensive research and evaluation on the workshops, resources, and materials developed to understand their impact.

“As we continue to move forward with the implementation of our action plan to stop sexual violence and harassment in Ontario we are helping our community partners in their efforts to prevent sexual violence and provide better support for victims,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. “Today’s funding will help reach young people before their attitudes and values are fully set, which is key to creating a safe and fair society. Everyone has a role to play in ending sexual violence and I am proud to be a part of a government that takes that role seriously.”

The project will also expand the scope and reach of the Upstander Program developed by Western’s Department of Housing, to include undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff through awareness campaigns and training resources.

Comprehensive research and evaluation will ensure programs and resources are evidence-based, and enable sharing of best practices for implementation at other institutions across the province.

“This funding addresses a high-priority need at campuses across Ontario and all the partners look forward to working with the Ontario Women’s Directorate and bringing this project to fruition,” Luker said.