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Gendered violence a complex issue on University of Regina campus

While there is a lot being done when it comes to sexual assault and gendered violence at the University of Regina, a new project is learning just how complex the issue is on campus.

Report expected next month from project launched last fall

The program launched last fall as a followup to the university's adoption in 2015 of a formal policy to combat sexual assault on campus. Roz Kelsey is the head of the project. 7:03

While there is a lot being done when it comes to sexual assault and gendered violence at the University of Regina, a new project is finding just how complex the issue is on campus.

"It's important that students know they are safe to come forward," Roz Kelsey, a professor and the head of the Gendered Violence Prevention Project, told CBC News.

The program launched last fall as a followup to the university's adoption in 2015 of a formal policy to combat sexual assault on campus.

"We needed to get a picture of what kind of progress we were making and how we could collectively look at the problem of gendered violence on our campus," Kelsey explained.

'It's important that students know they are safe to come forward.' - Roz Kelsey, head of the Gendered Violence Prevention Project

A comprehensive survey was done in September to gather data on the frequency and nature of gender-based violence.

Kelsey said it measured the attitudes and behaviours of participants, and asked about past experiences with sexual assault on campus, knowledge of campus policies and if people knew about services offered on campus.

It's difficult to know how many people may have been subjected to gendered violence on campus. Kelsey said the university's definition of sexual assault can range from unwanted touching to non-consensual sex.

Increase in reported cases

According to the university, there were 16 cases of sexual assault reported to campus security between 2011 and 2016; eight of those cases were reported in 2016.

Kelsey said the sudden increase in reported cases may be an indication of success when it comes to awareness of gendered violence on campus. Knowing people have come forward may help others do the same.

"When people share stories of trauma, it's very empowering."

A report is expected to be released next month on the project's findings so far. Kelsey said it will help the university find out where improvements need to be made when it comes to making sure everyone feels safe on campus.

The end result will be the creation of a comprehensive sexual assault and violence prevention plan for the university.

With files from CBC's Jill Morgan