Bringing awareness of sexual violence prevention services

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: MELISSA NOVACASKA
The Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) and Fanshawe's sexual violence prevention advisor, Leah Marshall teamed up to create a new way to let students know about the services and programs available to them.

In a simple, yet creative way to bring more awareness of Fanshawe’s sexual violence prevention program, this year’s red and white bus pass holders feature consent messaging and contact information for the programs and services available on campus.

The collaborative project took place between the Fanshawe Student Union (FSU) and Fanshawe’s sexual violence prevention advisor, Leah Marshall and is a way to give students the information needed if they ever need to use the programs or services, or know of someone who may benefit from them.

According to Marshall, the initiative between the FSU and herself came together fairly quickly and was a way to a see a different impact of the services and reach more student than she could do on her own.

“The important part of working towards change is involving all different groups across campus. We need to work together as a community to create change,” Marshall said. “With the programs and with the hopes and dreams that we have for creating a safer and more inclusive campus free from violence, it’s really all about those really strong connections all across campus. We have a very strong ally in the Fanshawe Student Union.”

Marshall added the philosophy of her position and the department, under the conselling and accessibility services umbrella, is to “create a culture change across campus.”

The fact that the messaging is on something as simple as a bus pass holder still plays an important part of the overall message of the initiative.

“This is a way, a piece of a cultural shift that’s taking place here at Fanshawe and it’s something that can kind of go into your pocket and it’s always going to be there in case you need it or you need to provide it to someone that you care about,” Marshall said.

While students are given a lot of information about different clubs, events and initiatives on campus through posters and booths, Marshall said bus pass holders are a different way to get sexual violence prevention services information out to students.

“It’s an opportunity to quite literally place service information in the hands of students. Not that all students may need or require the service now, but [the bus pass holder is] something that they’ll hopefully hold on to during their time here at Fanshawe and be able to access quite easily the contact information if that’s a support or service that they require,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, the fact of having the service’s information put out to the public in quite a “visible” way, will hopefully help de-stigmatize the concept of seeking support for experiencing the “silent epidemic of sexual violence.”

“[Sexual violence] is still not spoken about as openly as we hope, or what we’re pushing for and so part of putting that out in such an overt way allows us to say, ‘you know this is not the fault of the victim or survivor, this is the sole fault of the perpetrator,’ and that services and support are available and we have an open door for individuals that want to receive those supports or just want to know what their options are,” Marshall said.

According to Carol Balzer, FSU’s administrative services manager, the collaborative initiative was an idea that came to her when deciding what to include on this year’s bus pass holders.

Balzer said the idea was a way to highlight another service available to student while on campus.

“All services are important, but we felt that this is one that maybe doesn’t get as much attention as it could and it was an easy way or us to give it that attention,” Balzer said.

According to Balzer, working with Marshall for both this initiative and in the past has been a positive experience and the two parties will continue to do so in the near future.

“The service that Leah provides is still new and we hope that students don’t need to use it, but we want them to know that it’s there if they have to,” Balzer said. [The buss pass holders] is one of the easiest ways to get [that information] in the hands of students without being too pushy with it. It’s just there and if a student needs it, they’re going to see it, but it’s not in ‘your face kind of messaging’.”

Currently, the holders will be distributed to approximately 15,000 full-time students picking up their bus pass/student card, while the holders can be found in the J Gym, the registrar’s office and the FSU’s main office until they run out.

According to Marshall, the messaging and purpose of the pass is to make the services available to all individuals because all genders and non-conforming gender identities experience sexual violence.

The overall hope is to help de-stigmatize seeking support for experiencing sexual violence and let others know they are not alone.

“This is a positive message, this is a message of support and options and so we’re not speaking specifically about sexual violence in depth, were leaving it really open, which is what the [service] is, it’s really open for people to use it how it feels best for them or what fits best for them.

Overall, Marshall is positive about this initiative and how it’s another step bringing the Fanshawe community together.

“[The Collaboration] speaks to the strength of our college as a whole and moving towards a safer and more inclusive campus for all students and that’s ultimately the goal,” Marshall said.