Carleton University launches sex assault PSAs

Carleton University is launching a series of public service announcements to inform students and staff about sexual assaults after there were four incidents last year on campus, including three in November alone.

Support centre under construction after 4 sexual assaults on campus in 2011-12 school year

Carleton University creates campaign for return of students after a series of incidents last year. 2:27

Carleton University has released a number of public service announcements almost one year after a slew of sexual assaults on campus.

There were four reported sexual assaults at Carleton last school year, with three coming in Nov. 2011.

One man, 18, was charged related to one of the alleged sexual assaults and another non-sexual assault. At least one other man, a Carleton student, was sought in a February incident.

In the last year, there have been 100 new cameras installed in residence buildings and there are 45 new card access points in those buildings.

New emergency access phone and additional cameras are also planned because the sexual assaults happened in or near residence buildings. Now there are new PSA videos, the first ever made by this school regarding sexual assaults.

"We need to be talking about it and we need to be educating people," said Carrolyn Johnston, an equity advisor and the coordinator of sexual assault services for Carleton.

"This project was just a wonderful way to bring together students and staff on our campus to start having this conversation."

Support centre to open soon

There are 5,000 new students expected to arrive next week for frosh activities, joining some older students who have been fighting for more transparency and sexual assault services on campus.

Carrolyn Johnson says the PSAs are a first step leading towards the staff-run support centre currently under construction. (CBC)

The students started lobbying for a new student-run, university-funded sexual assault centre five years ago. Then last January, school administration agreed to open one, but instead it will be run by staff in Robertson Hall on the southeast end of campus.

That centre remains under construction, though, and the students continue to lobby to have it run by students. Now they are continuing to reach out by being featured in the PSA videos.

"In the last five years, students and the administration have been sort of like, diametrically opposed in the views," said Ron Couchman, co-founder of the student group Men for Equality and Non-violence.

"This is the first time where students and admin workers are all collaborating on the first project. I think it's a good starting point."

There are areas of the campus students say remain unsafe, though. The underground tunnels, which run all around campus, can be quiet and secluded late at night or early in the morning.