Selkirk College plans sexual assault response initiative

Selkirk College has received funding for a new initiative to improve the college’s response to sexual assault.

Selkirk College has received funding for a new initiative to improve the college’s response to sexual assault.

The college has received $54,500 from the province toward its new Strengthening Our Response to Sexual Assault program. The funding comes from $7.2 million in government grants supporting public safety priorities, paid for using $5.5 million in provincial Civil Forfeiture Office proceeds and $1.69 million from criminal forfeiture proceeds.

The initiative will allow the college to develop specific sexual violence policies and procedures so it can respsond to sexual assault insidences consistently. The college will also develop standard reporting, investigation and documentation practices.

The initiative will also expand the campus conversation about sexual violence, starting with the legally accepted definitions of sexual assault and consent. The program will provide more opportunities for open dialogue, with the goal of leading culture change, and more educational opportunities, such as Bystander Training, which is designed to engage students in providing leadership for culture change.

The college originally starting talking about the initiative in response to the province’s Violence Free BC Strategy and plans to have the program become an integral part of Selkirk’s ongoing Healthy Campus initiative. The funding received will help cover many of the one-time costs associated with the program, and ongoing funding will be covered through Healthy Campus, which will receive ongoing budget funding starting this year.

Selkirk plans to develop the program over the summer with further research and launch it in fall 2016. Students and the student union will play a role in developing the initiative, as will the College of the Rockies with whom Selkirk has a partnership. The school also hopes to identify community partners while building the initiative. Any community group interested in finding out more about the initiative can contact Cathy Mercer of Selkirk College at cmercer@selkirk.ca.

All members of the staff will be exposed to the initiative through the college’s human resources onboarding and staff training processes.