A student walks towards the main entrance of Yukon College in Whitehorse on Sept. 7. The college will, for the first time, be collecting annual statistics about incidents of sexualized violence on campus. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon College’s new sexualized violence policy includes collecting statistics

This will be the first time the school will gather figures specific to the issue

Understanding the scale of a problem can go hand-in-hand with prevention. That’s why Yukon College will, for the first time, collect annual statistics about incidents of sexualized violence on campus.

“Like any data we collect, it’s about the decisions that we’ll make over time,” said Michael Hale, chief administration officer. “It’s tracking the environment. Are we doing enough to ensure the safety of our students and our staff?”

The move is part of a new sexualized violence policy that was passed over the summer and rolled out in time for the arrival of students this fall.

“We really want to counter rape culture and promote a culture of informed consent,” said Colleen Wirth, director of student infrastructure support.

Sexualized violence, the new policy says, is defined as “any sexual act or act targeting an individual’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed or threatened or attempted against an individual without that individual’s consent.”

This may include sexual assault, but also stalking, transmitting intimate pictures, or inducing intoxication, it says.

The college has collected statistics for occupational health and safety requirements, but, when it comes to numbers specific to sexualized violence, the figures aren’t there.

If someone were to report an incident, identities would be kept confidential, Wirth said.

Having these statistics will be important across the territory, said Jess Stone, program coordinator at Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, noting that it’s difficult to find ones that are Yukon-specific.

“A lot of the times when people conduct research they’re looking at the North as a whole, so it’s really hard to make moves in prevention when we don’t know what we’re dealing with specifically in our own community,” she said. “It strengthens prevention methods, and gives the college the chance to look at their own systemic issues.”

Over the years, the women’s centre has assisted the college by conducting workshops about consent.

Before the new policy was implemented, a harassment policy was, and continues to be, in place at the college. The original policy was created in 1998 and revised in 2009. Included in the document is sexual harassment and physical assault. Complaints filed to the Director of Human Resources can, if requested, spur an investigation at the college level.

The new policy goes much further.

“The reality of our growing attention to the need to have a standalone sexualized violence policy has become really evident just as our country has emerged into the importance of allowing people to know who to go to and what to do when sexualized violence happen,” Wirth said. “It’s about creating that culture of knowing what it means to consent.”

What inspired the development is the national conversation that’s been building over the last three years, Hale said, adding that the Yukon College — post-secondary institutions in general — are adapting to societal changes.

Wirth said national statistics show 20 per cent of female post-secondary students experience sexualized violence.

“On an average year at Yukon College that would mean approximately 145 students,” she said.

This number is not absolute, she said, as many incidents go unreported.

In 2014, about 261,000 incidents of sexual assault were reported by students across Canada, according to Statistics Canada’s general social survey — 41 per cent of all incidents of this nature. Women were the majority of victims (90 per cent). The research contained in this report is specific to self-reported sexual assault.

Part of Yukon College’s policy will help crystallize how to lodge a report, both with the RCMP and the school. There’s also an off-campus reporting option, at Kaushee’s Place, which offers transitional housing for women.

Whether an investigation is initiated, however, is at the discretion of the victim.

Using a trauma-informed approach, the policy will seek to ensure that survivors are protected from being ostracized and/or re-victimized.

“At every step along the way we’re supporting them to do what they want to do,” Wirth said.

Hale echoed this statement.

“It’s about empowerment as much as it is about process,” he said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read