The Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre will arrive at all three U of T campuses by April 2017 to help students impacted by sexual violence connect with relevant professionals such as healthcare and legal professionals and academic counsellors.
Recent assault victims will be connected to the sexual assault care centres, wherein the complainant is given the option of filing a police report.
In an interview with The Medium, U of T’s executive director, Terry McQuaid, explained that the initiation of these processes and connections is done only upon the complainant’s request and consent.
She stated that the process by which students make appointments is confidential. She added that students can control the amount of information released to professors and TAs. However, McQuaid noted that the accommodation of students is “case-specific,” as the coordinators will consider a plan that suits the handled cases individually.
The centres have been partially open since January of this year. According to McQuaid, they already had certain services available for the use of the U of T community. The available services included open phone lines managed by the centre’s director Angela Treglia, who previously worked as the sexual violence prevention education coordinator at Western University.
“We will continue the services by phone even when the centres are open. We’ll have the physical space that people can walk into, we’ll have telephone access, and shortly thereafter there will be online [services] as well,” said McQuaid.
McQuaid is also involved in the process of hiring sexual violence coordinators who will run the centres’ services. Prospective candidates for this position must hold Master’s-level education in relevant fields such as psychology, social work, and counselling. McQuaid explained that candidates must also have prior knowledge of topics involving “inter-racialized communities, anti-oppressive framework, or diverse gender identities.” There will be a particular interest in hiring an Indigenous sexual violence coordinator as well.
In response to how these sexual violence coordinators will be trained to meet the needs of students, McQuaid said, “One of the important pieces is trauma-informed care, and we will make sure to take this into perspective[…]. We will provide this type of training. There’s also a lot of existing research coming from the expert panel that we’re going to use as [training] materials as well.”
The centre is part of the university’s implementation of a sexual violence policy mandated with Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan, which required all post-secondary institutions to develop a sexual violence policy last January.
The Medium reached out to McQuaid last Wednesday for location details, but did not receive a response as of press time.