Survey invites students to share personal experiences with sexual violence

University and college students across Ontario are being invited this week to participate in an online survey to gather information on their experiences, general attitudes, and beliefs related to personal safety and sexual violence.

The Student Voices on Sexual Assault survey is the first of its kind in Canada and builds on stand-alone sexual violence policies now in place at every university and college campus in Ontario.

“Research shows that sexual violence is persistently underreported and lacks consistent data-gathering mechanisms,” says Dusty Johnstone, UWindsor’s sexual misconduct response and prevention officer. “This survey is one component of a multi-faceted strategy to better understand and respond to sexual violence and harassment on campus.”

The survey is part of new overarching policies initiated by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development in 2016 which required all post-secondary institutions to implement sexual violence policies and report on their effectiveness.

“Sexual violence, as we understand it at the University of Windsor, is any act that targets a person’s sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression,” says Dr. Johnstone.

“These can be acts that are physical or psychological in nature and that are threatened or attempted without a person’s consent. This includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual exploitation, and we encourage any student at any time to report these kinds of behaviours.”

Students eligible to participate in the survey will have received an email this week with a link to a landing page with more information about the survey, developed in consultation with an expert panel made up of representatives from student groups, colleges and universities, private career colleges, as well as researchers working on sexual violence prevention.

“The survey is entirely voluntary and students can complete as much or as little as they are comfortable with,” says Johnstone. “It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete, and the information gathered will provide valuable insight that will inform policy development on safety well into the future.”