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New Campus Sexual Assault Policy Still Traumatizing Survivors

by Caroline Rodriguez-Charette

It’s the beginning of a new academic year, and new government-mandated policies have been implemented to keep students safe from sexual assault and to protect survivors. But, will the new policies make a difference?

Carleton University law student, Brittany Galler, 19, said she was sexually assaulted by a student in the dorm right next door to hers back in June.

“I woke up the next morning and I knew something was wrong. I was laying in my bed without my clothing. That’s not how I went to bed. I felt really disgusting,” said Galler, in an interview with the CBC.

The university did not move quickly enough to provide the support that she required — to be immediately separated from the alleged offender and to permit her to complete a course online while she was too traumatized to continue with her usual routine.

Galler’s experience is not an anamoly. More than one in every four women has been affected by sexual assault in Canadian universities, according to a study performed by BMC Women’s Health, and many of those who do report their assaults are not pleased with the procedures.

A team led by Carleton Legal Studies professor Dawn Moore published a scathing report for the Ontario government in June titled, The Response to Sexual Violence at Ontario University Campuses. The report calls for a “massive change” in how schools are currently dealing with sexual violence.

In an interview with CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning, Moore said that Galler’s experience with accessing services in the aftermath of the sexual assault was unfortunately a very common experience for survivors at Carleton.

Moore said that “there’s a real cleavage between understanding what survivors need in the aftermath of sexual assault and the fetishization of reporting.” Moore’s research shows that reporting is at the bottom of survivors’ list of needs, while easy accommodation is at the top. This includes not being bounced around from one service to another on campus, as was the case with Galler.

Survivors need one point person to go to, to take care of all of their needs.

Moore also stressed the need for prevention and education to “change the climate of sexual violence on campus.”

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 10, No. 1 (Sept/Oct 2017).

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