Universities focused on Consent during Orientation Week
With new students arriving at Ontario universities this past week, a focus on consent education is increasingly becoming the norm.
York University hosts Canada’s largest consent education presentation, with 6,500 students attending a presentation from Mike Domitrz.
Speaker Domitrz of the Date Safe project is a well-known speaker who also spoke at Western’s orientation week about the importance of consent, respect and healthy dating.
Domitrz has been coming to Western for 11 years and this year it was moved to a larger venue.
“This year’s event has been bigger than it ever has,” said University Students’ Council vice-president internal Alex Benac. “We moved it out of rez rally and onto main stage to make sure the broadest cross section of students as possible can hear his message.”
“He said good things to know, it got me thinking. It was one of those kind of things where he teaches you good stuff and you didn’t get bored,” said first-year student, Sarranya Surendran.
Precautions taken during Orientation Week
With regards to mental health and consent, Western took many precautions during orientation week.
“Particularly surrounding a consent themed event, we always have community support workers in the audience,” Benac said.“That’s a precautionary measure we put in place in case there is a triggering effect or if a student wants to make a disclosure to somebody. We always want to make sure we have professionals on hand.”
Sophs had an after hours counsellor for most of the week this year. Also, Campus Police is actively involved in planning O-Week and constantly assessing security risks and threats, added Benac.
Sexual violence prevention
“Western really is a leader in Canada with regards to sexual violence prevention on campus and that’s not to say that we’re perfect but we are a leader and that’s what sets us apart,” Benac said.
He also mentioned that Western has an an administration that is equally as committed to preventing sexual violence on campus as student groups are and that it is really important when you talk about building partnerships.
While a lot of schools buy their sexual violence material from third party companies, Western’s housing division created the ‘Upstandard’ program here on campus. It is a violence prevention campaign program that other schools actively seek to adopt, according to Benac.
Benac said the USC will be hosting a consent themed forum to have conversations about consent in the context of university life, with representatives from St. Joseph’s Hospital and Dr. Rachel Griffin, a well-known speaker on sexual violence and consent.
The forum will be held on campus on October 26 and will be open to the community.