U of S launches new sexual assault policies and awareness campaign

By Chris Vandenbreekel/CJME News Staff
September 27, 2016 - 11:15am

The University of Saskatchewan unveiled a new set of policies and programs Monday to help combat sexual assault.
University staff and the U of S Students' Union partnered in the announcement. Presenters said the goal is to make sure victims feel comfortable reporting what's happened to them.
"We're trying to build and shift that culture," said Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning Patti McDougall. "And responding in a way that can prevent some of these things that are happening."
The move comes just ten days after an assault was reported on campus near a residence building. At the time, U of S officials said the parties involved were all students and were known to the university. McDougall said the new policies aren't a response to the incident, but has been in the works for over a year.
The new initiatives include an awareness campaign called "React to Sexual Assault." The program focuses on encouraging students and staff to speak up or intervene in situations of sexual assault, from unwanted sexual contact to rape.
In addition, the university is releasing a new mobile app called "USAFE" where you're provided with direct links to sexual assault related university policies and reporting tools.
The app also supplies phone numbers for campus protective services and the USSU's "Safe Walk" program, where students can request to be escorted at night by volunteers with the student union.
There's also a "virtual safe walk" function that allows users to send a map link to a contact on their phone. That contact can then track the user's travel and cut out to an emergency call if needed, providing the exact coordinates of the phone's signal.
"The person will literally see them walking," said Director of Support Services Peter Hudley. "This could be mom and dad in B.C. or Nova Scotia. It can enable them to be engaged with what's happening with their children."
If an emergency call is activated from the app, a geolocator matches the call to either CPS or the closest 9-1-1 dispatcher.
The end goal, according to USSU Vice President of Operations and Finance Emmanauel Barker, is to make the U of S the safest campus in the country.
"The more people who use these services, the safer we will all be here on campus," he said.


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