Toronto community college developing sexual violence strategy

Kayla Marcozzi, a student at Centennial College’s East York campus, is pleased the school is developing a sexual violence policy.

“Hopefully they do it right,” says Marcozzi, a second-year graphic design student at the Story Arts Centre on Carlaw Avenue.

She says that sexual violence is “a major issue that does not get the recognition it deserves.”

Centennial College is “committed to addressing sexual assault and violence that impacts our community and is actively involved in the development of a sexual assault and violence policy with Colleges Ontario,” Craig Stephenson, Centennial’s vice president of student and community engagement, said in an emailed response to a question.

He said the policy will be geared towards providing “a holistic approach of care and support to every survivor, on and off campus.”

The new policy, for Centennial’s multiple Toronto campuses, will be released March 31.

The Canadian Federation of Students has reported that four out of five undergraduate students report being victims of violence in a relationship.

On Thursday, students are gathering in Ottawa at a CFS conference to discuss ways to end campus sexual violence.

This conference comes after Premier Kathleen Wynne  announced new legislation to end sexual violence and harassment.

Under the legislation, colleges and universities are required to have a sexual assault policy, which includes the public disclosure of all sexual assault incidences and ensuring students have the necessary resources to prevent sexual violence and harassment.

“It’s great that they’re looking at it now,” says Joshua Harricharan, a film and broadcasting student at Centennial College in East York. “Students banding together and talking is the best way to approach it.”

Marcozzi finds that the debate often revolves around gender and victim blaming. She hopes it doesn’t get that way.

“The number one thing I want to see is equality,” Marcozzi said.

Follow Toronto Observer for full coverage of the conference.