Targetting Sexual Abuse at Vanier College

Targetting Sexual Abuse at Vanier College
Photo: Nouvelles Saint-Laurent/Courtesy

A new Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy went into effect November 21 at Vanier College. If students or staff at the Saint-Laurent cegep feel they are victims of unwanted sexual activity, they can now report it to a five-member support team.

« There are many forms of sexual violence – both physical and emotional. It can be a comment or manipulation. It also includes cyberbullying. The support team will be there to listen, to take down information, and we can also provide options and counselling, » says Christina Cichon, Vanier College’s interim director of student services

The new policy covers on and off-campus activities. The support team will be available during the school’s regular office hours.

This policy is not intended interfere with the criminal justice system. The special unit at Vanier College will work closely with Montreal Police if a particular incident requires additional resources.

« This is a step in the right direction. With this, survivors and victims will have a place to go, » Cichon adds.

She will work alongside Vanier College director general John McMahon in overseeing the policy.

There are more than 6,200 students at Vanier College. In the last 10 years, the school has handled one incident of sexual violence on campus.

The cegep is now working on developing an awareness campaign and a Quick Reference Guide. A standing committee will also analyze the new policy and make recommendations.

In the past, a social services officer was handling reports of sexual violence at Vanier. In 2017, the Quebec government passed a law ordering cegeps and universities across the province to adopt a specialized policy and to be better-equipped at preventing, diagnosing and treating the problem.

Cégep de Saint-Laurent

While Vanier College has already completed its work, institutions of higher learning across Quebec have until January 1 to adopt a policy. At Cégep de Saint-Laurent, officials are confident they will put together their own document soon.

According to spokesperson Isabelle Moncion, the policy should be presented to the school’s Board of Directors for adoption when it meets next month.

For her, it will ensure all victims of sexual violence will be treated with « respect and dignity ».