Maritime universities focusing on campus safety
Published Wednesday, September 9, 2015 8:39PM ADT
Universities across the Maritimes are taking action to deal with issues of consent and safety.
Students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax are taking mandatory seminars after the school was forced to launch a formal review two years ago when some of its students made national headlines for a controversial frosh week chant.
“We’re definitely teaching new information,” said fifth-year Saint Mary’s student Laura Langille. “There are all kinds of different things that go along with consent.”
The significance of the seminars was proven Wednesday after an Acadia University student was charged with sexual assault following a frosh week incident.
Around 600 Saint Mary’s students will take the safety seminar over the next two days.
Dongsheng Li is helping lead sessions on cultural safety. He says he knows the kind of culture shock that comes with starting university in a new country.
“We focus on languages and different cultural symbols,” said Li. “We want most importantly to create a safe environment for students, no matter where a student comes from.”
Langille says this kind of information is important for students who are living away from home for the first time.
“First-year students coming onto campus, they're going to be experiencing so many new things,” she said. “Different relationships, different social scenarios.”
The sessions also teach about drug and alcohol use.
Universities around the region are teaching about safety. At Dalhousie University, students can access a mobile app called DalSAFE that connects them with a safe ride home, or with Halifax police.
Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford has introduced a new policy on sexual assault on its campus this year, which gives students a clear definition of consent, and information about what to do if they experience sexual assault.
“There’s been increased attention throughout the region, throughout the country and throughout North America to the issue of the complexities of sexual assault,” said Mount Saint Vincent University president Ramona Lumpkin.
Students at Acadia were told via email from the vice-president of enrollment and student services regarding campus counselling and safety services after the alleged incident.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.
Students at Saint Mary's University gather for a mandatory safety course.