The U of M has updated its sexual violence policy regarding disclosures of sexual violence.
The updated policies require that, upon receiving a disclosure from someone that sexual violence has occurred, supervisors or managers at the U of M must direct the person who made the disclosure to the Sexual Violence Resource Centre (SVRC)immediately.
Bre Woligroski, co–ordinator of the SVRC, explained that the policies were updated due to confusion surrounding what next steps should be taken after receiving a disclosure of sexual violence.
She said that for those at the managerial or supervisor level at the university, “there was some uncertainty about what next steps should be.”
The policy updates reflect the university’s desire to be survivor–centred by giving priority to making supports available to survivors, and also enabling them to make a report if they want to.
Woligroski noted that the updated policy states that if there is a threat of immediate danger, the person receiving the disclosure must contact security services or 911 for the individual’s safety.
The SVRC meets by appointment with students, faculty and staff who have been affected by sexual violence to discuss options for support and any action they might wish to take.
“It is a confidential service, and we do our best to create a space that is safe and is trauma informed and survivor centred,” Woligroski said, adding that the centre prioritizes the needs of survivors and does its best to “make sure that they have as much power in the situation as possible.”
Sophia Sacco, a science student at the University of Manitoba, explained that she believes this is a positive change, noting that victims often struggle to deal with the trauma on their own and having professional help available can be critical.
“Everybody who is a victim is impacted differently, but it will change their entire life,” she said.
When asked what the U of M can do to make a safer environment for students, Sacco said that she hopes the university can raise awareness that sexual violence is not solely perpetrated by men, and that there are many different forms of sexual violence.
Woligroski said that people who contact the SVRC don’t have to provide their name or student number. “We don’t want that to be a barrier,” she said.
“They can also call us, and sometimes people like that because it might be a little more anonymous,” she continued.
Woligroski added that appointments with the SVRC are also available on Zoom.
“We know life is complicated and people may not have time during business days,” she said, “so we’re super open to meeting evenings and weekends also, in whatever way feels most safe for them.”
More information can be found online on the Sexual Violence Resource Centre website. If you know of anyone in immediate danger, contact campus security at (204) 474-9341 or call 911.