What The Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act Means for Schools in Manitoba
On Friday, April 28th, officials in Manitoba, Canada put into action a new law that outlines how Manitoba universities must act in order to prevent and handle instances of sexual violence on campus. According to CBC News, “An estimated 15 to 25 percent of female post-secondary students experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault during their education.” In response to this, Manitoba authorities created new rules for post-secondary institutions that apply not only to all public institutions in Manitoba and the Manitoba Institutes of Trade and Technology, but also all 37 private post-secondary institutions across the province.
What this means for institutions of higher education in Manitoba:
1.) Sexual violence on social media or other forms of digital communication counts.
The wording of the new Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act clearly outlines that sexual violence or harassment that occurs on social media channels or via other modes of digital communication (texting, instant messaging, email, etc.) is considered just as serious an offense as harassment or violence committed in person.
This means that universities in Manitoba must not only create awareness campaigns for students focused around recognizing, preventing and responding to online sexual violence, but also deliver training to staff members who may not be as experienced dealing with online or digital sexual harassment as they are dealing with more blatant physical instances.
2.) Institutions must come up with ways to spread awareness and implement training.
This new act stipulates that institutions must take preventative measures by proactively training students and staff on preventing, recognizing and effectively handling instances of sexual violence. Institutions must take measures to ensure that their students understand the meaning of consent, as well as understand the seriousness of sexual harassment or violence perpetrated online. Training modules like that offered in Advocate by Symplicity are an effective way to manage this training, because the module allows you to assign training to students and track whether or not the students have completed it.
3.) Institutions must have a process in place for allowing reports of complaints about sexual violence, as well as defined response protocols.
Part of the new act’s requirements is that institutions must develop both a way for students to safely report instances of sexual violence and a defined process for staff to handle these incoming complaints. Advocate was specifically designed to streamline both ends of this process, allowing students to securely report instances of sexual violence while guiding staff members through a comprehensive workflow encompassing all steps of dealing with these complaints.
Whether universities in Manitoba choose Advocate or a less comprehensive case management system for handling student conduct, it is certainly in their best interest to adopt some type of technology-based solution to help them manage the new demands and requirements brought about by the Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Act.