Province launches campus sexual violence prevention campaign
Published Thursday, August 29, 2019 3:39PM PDT Last Updated Thursday, August 29, 2019 5:18PM PDT
Most sexual assaults on college and university campuses happen within the first eight weeks of the fall semester.
Knowing this, the provincial government launched its sexual violence prevention ad campaign on Thursday, aiming to remind students about the importance of consent.
The ads will be featured on posters around campuses and at popular bars, in campus media outlets, and in campus media outlets. They feature images of young people in social situations alongside messages about consent.
"Flirting is not yes," one poster reads. Others say "walking them home is not yes," and "drunk is not yes."
In smaller print, the posters say "sex without consent is rape" and "consent must be voluntary -- otherwise it's assault."
"Our government is responding to a call to action from students to ensure that our campuses in British Columbia are safer for everyone, regardless of gender expression, identity or sexual orientation," said Melanie Mark, the provincial Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, in a release.
At a launch event at Emily Carr University, Mark was joined by representatives from student groups and sexual violence prevention groups.
"The underlying message here is about consent and the right to consent and the right to safety," Mark said at the event.
The campaign is part of a $760,000 initiative launched in June that aims to ensure that schools have plain-language policies and processes for dealing with sexual violence, and that those policies are easy to understand and accessible to students.
The funding also serves to allow B.C.'s 25 public post-secondary institutions to learn from each other, sharing best practices and training resources.
Since May 2017, all 25 institutions have been legally required to have sexual violence and misconduct policies, and to make them publicly available. Private institutions with student residences are also required to have such policies.
Public institutions' policies, as well as general information for students about campus sexual assault and misconduct, is available online at safecampusesbc.ca. That website is also mentioned in each of the ads the province debuted Thursday.
"It's more than just an ad-based awareness campaign," said Tanysha Klassen, chair of the BC Federation of Students, at the launch event. "It will provide real information, support for people seeking it, and -- perhaps more importantly -- providing direct access to institutional sexual violence and misconduct policies."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott