Red River College has partnered with EVA (Ending Violence Across) Manitoba to launch a new online tool that will empower students, staff and instructors to anonymously report sexual assaults on campus, and access the support they need.
The College joins 10 other Manitoban post-secondary institutions in adopting the REES (Respect Educate Empower Survivors) reporting tool, offering a customized version of the platform that links to specific RRC supports, information and resources.
“Our students and staff have a right to learn and work in an environment that is free from sexual violence in all its forms. REES will help ensure that our campuses are safe places, and that survivors are heard and supported,” says Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College.
The REES platform also helps individuals who have experienced sexual violence complete a reporting form that captures all the key information about an incident through a secure online form.
The user chooses what happens next: they can keep the report for their personal records and never share it, or they can decide to provide a copy to their educational institution or to the police.
The decision to report is a personal one, says Jess Spindler, RRC’s Resource and Resolution Advisor.
“No one should feel pressured to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable, but reporting does mean the matter can be addressed. When you make a report, the College must look into the matter, support your safety, and take appropriate corrective action to stop inappropriate behaviour and prevent future reoccurrences.
“The current North American data tells us that 1 in 5 female-identifying students experience sexual violence while attending post-secondary. The real number is likely higher because sexual violence is significantly underreported. Statistics Canada has noted that more than 8 of every 10 sexual assaults in Canada are never reported to police.”
Mary Lobson, founder of REES and project manager of the Manitoba pilot, says, “REES also aims to play a broader role in making campuses safer by gathering and providing anonymous data about sexual violence to a college to help the institution better understand if policies, supports and resources are effective. REES will provide a report on data is has collected to Red River College each term.”
RRC’s adoption of the REES platform builds on a number of initiatives Red River College has put in place for the safety and protection of its staff and students. The College’s standalone Sexual Violence Policy takes a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence. The procedures under the policy are currently being revised to ensure they are more comprehensive and responsive to the needs of members of the College community.
As well, RRC’s No Wrong Door initiative connects staff and students with a number of on- and off-campus supports such as security, Safe Walk, counselling, and community crisis and trauma centres.
REES also gives survivors access to an online community of support at reescommunity.com.