Montreal, August 21, 2017
AVEQ welcomes the strategy for the fight against sexual violence on campuses announced today by the Minister of Higher Education of Quebec.The strategy set forth by Ms. David appears to be a step in the right direction in terms of the prevention of sexual violence, as well as support for survivors on campuses. Nonetheless, AVEQ has several critiques and questions concerning the strategy presented today by the Minister of Higher Education.
First of all, we welcome the academic accommodations proposed in the strategy, and we hope that these types of accommodations will be possible in the context of housing (more precisely in residences), as needed, and that accommodations offered will prioritize the quality and stability of the victim’s life.
The financial element, particularly in terms of allocation, was not discussed in depth by the Minister. The availability of financial and human resources is not the same on every campus, and it is important to know more about how this strategy aims to be accessible to all students, irrespective of their college or university.
“Several campuses already have difficulty getting sufficient resources, particularly in the regions. The minister announced an amount for her strategy, now we need to find out whether resources will be genuinely accessible for all students in Quebec,” explained Häxan Bondu, Coordinator of Sociopolitical Affairs for AVEQ, and a student at UQAC.
AVEQ is also raising questions about the accessibility of trainings, new resources and facilities on campuses. It would be interesting to know which people will be trained on campuses, apart from student associations and resource people, and what this training will consist of. It would also be relevant to specify when students will have access to these resources, particularly if an assault takes place off campus.
It is also essential that directly-affected people and community groups already working against sexual violence be involved in the development of the resources and single points of access on local campuses, as well as the creation of the new law.
“It’s not enough to just mention community groups and marginalized individuals, we really must give them a platform to be heard. Especially for questions of sexual violence, it’s our job to hold ourselves and each other accountable to a higher standard. Survivors, Indigenous people, the two spirit and LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, women, disabled people; these are who we need to be including, listening to, and supporting the most. As the government and educational institutions continue working on creating legislation and policies, we need to do better at creating space for and prioritizing marginalized voices”, explained Kristen Perry, AVEQ’s Coordinator of Mobilization and Associative Development.
Finally, given that AVEQ supports sex and consent education starting at the primary level, we hope that the minister will be able to work with her ministerial colleagues in order to improve education and the prevention of sexual violence prior to post-secondary education.
“We must not forget that the culture which feeds sexual violence is not born on campuses: prevention of this violence must also take place before postsecondary education, and as soon as possible,” explained Bondu.
AVEQ’s mission is to defend both Anglophone and francophone students, with particular attention to the realities of students in the regions. AVEQ currently represents over 46,000 students across three member associations, and other association are actively participating in its creation.
Kristen Perry, Coordinator of Mobilization and Associative Development
1-888-994-9177 x 202