McGill, News

First wave of students completes sexual violence prevention training

Over the summer, McGill released an online sexual violence prevention course called “It Takes All of Us” to its first wave of students, with incoming first years gaining access as early as June 2019. Eventually, all students and staff will be required to complete the course. 

“”It Takes All of Us” is a learning program that strives to increase awareness of sexual violence, to ensure that [we base our] campus culture [on] respect and consent, and to help create a community free of sexual violence,” Associate Provost (Equity and Academic Policies) Angela Campbell wrote in an email to the McGill Tribune

The program consists of four modules, covering topics such as consent, alcohol and drug use, and sexual assault statistics. The course begins by exploring the many ways sexual violence can manifest, followed by a primer as to what genuine consent looks like. Bystander intervention is explored in the third module, and the course concludes by providing resources and advice for supporting survivors.

“I was a little hesitant at first. Generally, I find [that these programs are] very watered-down,” Margaret Askey, U0 Arts, said. “But, I found [that] the way they managed to explain nuanced concepts while also being respectful and mindful of students who have experienced sexual assault […] is a really important part of the program.”

All students who attended frosh, including upper year coordinators and leaders were required to complete “It Takes All of Us” in August.

“It gave me a little peace of mind,” Askey said. “[The mandatory training] means [that everyone at Frosh] at least gets introduced to the concept of consent. I think I can take for granted that most people I interact with in my social circles understand the basics of consent […] but I don’t think that’s the case for most students. And I don’t think that’s the case for students who come from social climates where sexuality is less discussed.”

Still, Askey also felt that drinking culture also had to be addressed for Frosh to be a truly safe environment for first years.

“I think that in tandem with this consent [program], [McGill] could do a lot more work around the drinking culture of Frosh [….] I knew students who attended the Arts Faculty Frosh had rallies at 6:00 am and partied until the wee hours of the morning, only to take a power nap and wake up and do it all again.”

Mengyu Chang, U0 Arts, was concerned that it was easy to bypass the contents of the course. 

“We need to complete [“It Takes All of Us”] to enter Frosh, so some people maybe did not read it very carefully or patiently,” Chang said.

“I heard plenty of other [first year students] talk about how they would play the module, walk into the next room, […] and then come back and guess on the questions,” Askey said.

However, Campbell believes such concerns about students rushing through the course may be unwarranted.

“We have found that McGill students are broadly supportive of and committed to efforts to raise awareness and increase supports for people impacted by sexual violence,” Campbell wrote. “We are aware of the IT issue of ‘fast forwarding’ and we’re examining various solutions to address it. Please note that someone cannot actually leave the room and let the module play since it must be advanced by the user.”

The course is expected to be released Sept. 23 for upper-year students and faculty. Students and staff will receive access to different versions.

“Both [courses] are largely the same,” Campbell wrote. “The staff/faculty version stresses the Policy Against Sexual Violence’s prohibition of romantic or sexual relations between teaching staff and students under their authority or influence.”

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