Student Services has created a new administrative position targeted at educating students on sexual violence and preventing incidences of sexual assault from occurring on campus.

Sarah Crawford has filled the position of sexual violence and harm reduction prevention coordinator. Her role is to place an additional focus on sexual violence reduction and education in general, with special focus on drug and alcohol use within the context of sexual violence.

According to Crawford similar positions already exist at some other post-secondary schools, more commonly universities, but many more are being created across the province.

The creation of positions like Crawford’s aligns with the growing movement to address the high rate of sexual assaults on post-secondary campuses.

In 2016 the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario published a “campus toolkit for creating consent culture.” The “toolkit” is essentially a guideline on up-to-date sexual assault education practices, centred around the idea of creating a consent culture on campus.

Crawford identified this idea as a focus for her role at Algonquin.

“I think it’s important to educate students and young people on what consent is and what it looks like,” she said.

“Consent culture is about challenging behavior, it’s looking at being a bystander and when you should intervene.”

Crawford believes her position is an evolution of how colleges are dealing with the issue of sexual violence on campus. She believes this is a positive step, as education around sexual assault and consent has also evolved over the years.

“The campaigns were always “no means no” and now we’re sort of switching to an understanding that “only yes means yes”,” she said.

The creation of her position comes shortly after the introduction of a new sexual assault policy at Algonquin, which is available on the college website.

The new policy was created as part of a provincial initiative organized by Colleges Ontario in 2015 to ensure “a consistent approach to sexual assault violence in all Ontario colleges.”

Specifically, Crawford will be creating media messaging, educational material, training and events for the Algonquin community. She said a big part of her job is going to be taking the information and resources available and making them easily accessible for staff and students.

Crawford will be focused for the remainder of this term on developing the promotional materials and education programs to be organized and implemented for the start of the fall semester 2017.