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Sexual assault a reality on campus

Francis Siebert | Interrobang | News | February 16th, 2015

There have been 10 reports of sexual assaults at Fanshawe College since April 2013, according to London Police Services.

The 10 reports all happened at Fanshawe’s main campus at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd. While LPS does not have jurisdiction over the towns of St. Thomas, Woodstock and Simcoe – where Fanshawe has campuses – Campus Security Services says it has not received any reports of sexual assault at those locations since they switched computer systems in April 2013.

The 10 reports do not necessarily represent founded cases of sexual assault.

“[The number] is just sexual assaults that have been reported,” LPS media relations Const. Ken Steeves said. “Not all reports of sexual assaults are truthful.”

The CBC published a story on February 9, aggregating the number of reports of sexual assaults between 2010 and 2013 at each university and major college across Canada.

While Fanshawe is on the CBC’s list, the number of sexual assaults reported on campus is recorded as “not available.” According to Fanshawe spokesperson Elaine Gamble, the reason is because the Fanshawe administration did not have access to the numbers at the time the CBC was conducting its investigation.

The Fanshawe administration has since been given the number of sexual assaults reported to Campus Security Services – six since April 2013.

When students, staff or faculty report an on-campus sexual assault to Fanshawe security, Campus Security Services conducts a preliminary investigation. Campus security then hands the investigation over to LPS since it is not in its mandate to investigate sexual assaults.

LPS is not required to inform Fanshawe about the outcome of the investigation and generally does not do so, according to Steeves.

LPS is also not required to inform the college when students, staff or faculty report on-campus sexual assaults directly to them. It does not generally inform the college in those cases, either.

However, if LPS believes the report presents a safety concern for the Fanshawe community, it will inform Campus Security Services.

“The main reason is for the privacy of the victim,” Steeves says.

While the numbers of reported sexual assaults at Fanshawe and on campuses all across Canada are low, “experts” have told CBC there may be two meanings to the data. Either the schools with higher numbers do have more cases of sexual assaults, or they do a better job at informing students about sexual violence, the CBC reported.

Spec. Const. Brent Arseneault says the reason why Fanshawe’s number is so low is because the school has many services and programs in place to prevent such crimes from happening on campus. Some of those services and programs include Work Alone, Rape Aggression Defence and Safe Walk.

The CBC’s investigation also reports that more than three quarters of the 87 schools investigated – including Fanshawe – do not publicly publish the number of reported on-campus sexual assaults.

Gamble says making the data publicly available is something the college is considering doing as part of its upcoming policy on sexual assault.

The policy Fanshawe is developing is based on a framework developed by Ontario’s colleges and endorsed in January by the presidents of Ontario’s 24 colleges, including Fanshawe President Peter Devlin. The policy should be implemented by March 31, according to Fanshawe’s vice-president of student services, Cathie Auger.

In implementing Ontario College’s framework policy, colleges commit to assisting victims; ensuring internal investigations are available; and teaching students, staff and faculty about sexual violence and how to respond to disclosures of sexual assault.

The draft does not require colleges to publish data on reports of on-campus sexual assaults, however.

Other schools around London that are on the CBC’s list include Western University with 23 reports of sexual assaults between 2010 and 2013, Sheridan College with eight, Mohawk College with three and Conestoga College with two.

Students, staff and faculty who were sexually assaulted on campus are advised to contact Campus Security Services at 519-452-4400.
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