Raeesa Valeni // London, Ont. // March 19, 2024

Some students and faculty are questioning whether Western University Senate’s decision to add a blurb to all syllabi denouncing gender-based sexual violence (GBSV) actually addresses the seriousness of the issue. They say a statement that many people may not see doesn’t go far enough in directing students to resources that can help.

Elam Buttar, student and residence assistant at Western University.

“I had to stick up multiple resource pages outside my door,” said Elam Buttar, a student and residence assistant. “It would’ve been super helpful to have one page for first year students to easily access.”

Buttar’s observation about the challenges students face in accessing resources appears to be a common issue, particularly for first-year students who may not be familiar with the resources available to them in case they experience or witness GBSV.

Another student shared their personal experience as a victim of GBSV, revealing the challenges they encountered in finding appropriate support channels.

“I called student services, the London Police, etc.,” said the student who asked not to be named. “It would be so beneficial to students to have a place on Owl or Brightspace, like a tab, to click on without having to search Google far and wide for answers.” 

Other students find it confusing to navigate the complexities of seeking support and assistance without a widely accessible platform for students to access support resources.

Stephen Pitel, Western University law professor.

“The more ways and places that you communicate a message, the more likely it is for students to hear,” said professor Stephen Pitel. He advocated for a Meta-level approach, such as integrating a dedicated tab through course learning platforms, to streamline access to essential resources.

According to the Western Gazette, the statement added to course syllabi reads:

“Western is committed to reducing incidents of gender-based and sexual violence.” Along with a link to resources, the statement will be in all syllabi starting on Sept. 1, 2024.

While Pitel said the GBSV statement represents a positive step forward in raising awareness, he wants Western to make it easier for students to find resources and support networks.

Implementing a centralized and easily accessible platform, could significantly enhance students’ ability to seek assistance when faced with GBSV, said Pitel and the students interviewed. They believe that by fostering a campus culture that prioritizes the safety and well-being of all students, Western University can take meaningful strides towards creating a safer and more inclusive learning environment for all.

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