Saint Mary's University is one of serveral schools across the province participating in the project. (Metro Halifax)
Sexual assault prevention will be just one of the topics under review in a new provincial project aimed to make life safer for university students.
Student unions across the province will participate in the reviews, which will examine policies and practices involving alcohol and sexual assault prevention. Consultant Anne Martell will undertake the project, visiting campuses across Nova Scotia and conferring with various student leaders.
“We’re very excited to pursue these important initiatives to improve our practices and protect our students”, StudentsNS chair Jared Perry in a release. “Together, students and the province are working to turn the tide on sexual assault and alcohol abuse among students.”
Nova Scotia has the highest rates of sexual assault in Canada. Sixty-two per cent of university women in Canada say they have been sexually assaulted.
The percentage of Nova Scotia students who drink heavily at least once per month [51 per cent] is also significantly higher than the national average [32 per cent] and double the rate of the general population.
The sexual assault prevention steering committee will also develop a communications campaign to spread awareness of sexual assault and encourage bystander intervention.
“This is something that we talk about quite often,” Perry says, adding the reviews will create more awareness for students and the student organizations involved.
“We want to educate ourselves…and from that review, we’ll be able to take things in the right direction, so that will be sustainable in the future and hopefully have a very big impact.”
The total value of the initiatives is $46,156. Contributions of $31,291 come from the province, while $13,465 is from student unions and $1,400 from Cape Breton University.
A portion of the project's funding is allocated for the implementation of the review’s recommendations, though Perry says it will be up to the steering committee to determine how large of a portion.
University student unions participating in the reviews include Acadia, Cape Breton University, Mount Saint Vincent, St. Francis Xavier and Saint Mary’s.
Dalhousie University will join the other unions in implementing the sexual assault prevention campaign.