On March 27, the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (O-SVRSE) opened its doors to the McGill community and hosted two open houses. The office is located at 550 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Suite 585, and officially opened in November 2016.
Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) Angela Campbell helped create the Policy against Sexual Violence, which was approved by Senate on Nov. 23 last semester, and stated that the policy led to the creation of O-SVRSE.
“The implementation [of the policy] has mostly been taking place through the establishment of the [O-SVRSE],” Campbell said. “An implementation committee has been formed and will be lead by Professor Lucy Lach in the School of Social Work, and she will start her role imminently.”
According to Campbell, the Policy against Sexual Violence and O-SVRSE are the foundation for tackling sexual violence at McGill.
“[O-SVRSE] and the policy are really crucial beginnings for the development of a coordinated and effective response to the challenge of sexual violence on campus,” Campbell said. “So that the work of ensuring that we prevent [sexual violence] and raise awareness about its impact requires ongoing work and collaboration from all members across the campus community.”
Sexual Violence Response Advisor Émilie Marcotte, an O-SVRSE employee, characterized the office as the administration’s response to students who are looking for help. The O-SVRSE team includes Marcotte, Harm Reduction Officer Bianca Tétrault, Consent McGill Office Assistant Lucy Mackrell, Social Work Intern Bryn Davies, and Consent McGill volunteers.
“I think it is very important that the university has developed this office in the sense of having a designated point of entry for sexual violence [survivors],” Marcotte said. “[Sexual violence] is a big societal issue and I think McGill already has a lot of resources, including [the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS)]. This is the administration’s way of saying, ‘If there is a problem, if there is an issue, if you need help, if there is a question, here is where you can go.’”
Consent McGill volunteer Ki-eun Peck, U3 Arts, said that she volunteers for O-SVRSE to help prevent sexual violence on campus.
“I used to volunteer for Rez Project, and there are a lot of connections between Rez Project and Consent McGill,” Peck said. “[My goal is to] prevent even one sexual assault from happening.”
In addition to helping individual survivors, another goal of the office is to implement more sexual violence education to change society’s perception of sexual violence in general.
“[O-SVRSE] also does the prevention [of] and education [about] sexual violence,” Marcotte said. “[…Tétrault] has been working at McGill for three years now doing the Consent McGill campaign and different workshops. So, I think the idea […is that] more resources will be put into developing different workshops and [training] more people, [and] that will also [create] a culture change on how people think and speak about sexual violence.”
Marcotte explained that the purpose of having an open house is to raise awareness of the existence of O-SVRSE. The office also features a mural created by a SACOMSS volunteer that symbolizes the experience of being a survivor and the process of healing.
“I think it’s important for people to know that the office is there and where we are […],” Marcotte said. “We are not on campus, we’re right across. That was done purposefully so that there will be more confidentiality. It’s also accessible, there are elevators, which are not in every building on campus."