September 8, 2017 - 1:30pm
Know More Campaign aims to raise awareness about consent and support services on VIU campuses and in the surrounding communities
Having a conversation about sexual violence can be difficult, but Vancouver Island University (VIU) wants to encourage discussions and raise awareness about consent and support services.
VIU recently launched the Know More Campaign which is geared particularly toward students. It is an education program to raise awareness about sexual violence, consent and creating a sex-positive and healthy campus culture.
“We want to let students know we are here to listen and we are here to provide support should they experience sexual violence,” said Marge Huntley, VIU’s Director of Student Affairs. “The point behind the campaign is to invite students to have conversations about consent and healthy sexual relationships. I think sometimes the reason students may not have these sorts of conversations is that they don’t feel that it’s OK. It’s OK to talk about sex and what they want or don’t want. We want them to know that there are people available and ready to listen and be supportive.”
Huntley said VIU is committed to creating a safe, supportive and respectful learning environment free from sexual violence and misconduct. The Know More Campaign is part of that commitment.
This semester the Know More Campaign is rolling out two themes: Know Consent and Know Support as a way to create opportunities for conversations. Other themes will be unveiled as the campaign progresses. Know Support is meant to raise awareness about where students and employees can turn to for help both through campus and community services. The aim of Know Consent is to raise awareness about personal boundaries in all relationships, not just in sexual relationships.
“We need to ask before we touch someone, whether sexually or whether we simply want to give someone a hug. We need to respect people’s personal boundaries and whether they want to be touched or not,” said Huntley.
Creating a campaign such as Know More is a great way to engage students said Chantelle Spicer, Vancouver Island University Students’ Union Women Students’ Representative. She said students don’t often read policy and procedure unless something bad happens. Diverse campaigns with social media, posters and a variety of events provide opportunities for students to think about consent in new ways.
“By having opportunities to share our ideas and ask questions we are able to come to a deeper collective understanding. Conversations like these create spaces for a diversity of voices coming together on a complex and important topic,” said Spicer.
VIU wants to create an environment where people regardless of their gender, gender expression or sexual orientation feel safe, respected and supported. Part of the campaign’s goal is to develop an atmosphere where people feel comfortable and safe enough to reach out and talk to someone if they have experienced an act of sexual violence.
On May 19, 2016, the provincial government passed the BC Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act, which required all post-secondary institutions to develop a stand-alone sexual and violence policy and procedure.
VIU developed its policy and procedure after considerable input from both internal and external stakeholder groups as well as individual students, faculty and staff. VIU will host various events and training sessions in connection to the Know More Campaign during the coming months.
Members of VIU’s campuses and the broader community are invited to join the conversation by using the #VIUknowmore hashtag on social media. VIU is hosting a Know More social media day on September 12.
Know More is sponsored by the Moosehide Campaign Safe Space, Safe Place initiative and the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union (VIUSU). For more information about the Know More Campaign, visit viu.ca/know-more.
Rachel Stern, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University