Saskatchewan

Sexual assault on campus 'hit my child', U of R president says

After disclosing that one of her daughters was the victim of a sexual assault at a university, the president of the University of Regina — Vianne Timmons — announced a new initiative aimed at ensuring a safe environment at her institution.

Campus sexual assaults are 'under-reported', U of R president says

Vianne Timmons, president of the University of Regina, speaks to reporters following an announcement for a UR Safe project to combat sexual assault on campus. (CBC)

After disclosing that one of her daughters was the victim of a sexual assault at a university, the president of the University of Regina — Vianne Timmons — announced a new initiative aimed at ensuring a safe environment at her institution.

"She has allowed me to share this with you," Timmons said during an announcement Friday for the UR Safe project. "I know personally [about sexual assault on campus]. It's hit my child. My family."

Timmons did not elaborate on when her child was sexually assaulted nor where. She said the sexual assault took place during her daughter's second year of studies.

This campus needs to be safe.- Vianne Timmons

"She did not tell anyone. She did not share it with anyone because she'd been drinking," Timmons said. "She was ashamed and felt that she had somehow been responsible for this."

Timmons said her family learned about what happened several months later.

"We did a lot of work to make her understand that she was not responsible," she said.

Safe campus project

The UR Safe project is a followup to the university's adoption in 2015 of a formal policy to combat sexual assault on campus. The policy states that everyone, from staff to students, should be free from any form of sexual assault and violence.

The 2016 project will begin on Sept. 19 with a comprehensive survey to gather data on the frequency and nature of gender-based violence.

"This campus needs to be safe," Timmons said, adding she believes only "very few" sexual assaults have been reported.

"I don't think they're reliable [statistics]," she said. "They're under-reported."

Following the survey, work will be done on a violence-prevention plan which will include an awareness campaign.

The university is providing $82,500 for the project, which will include input from White Ribbon Canada, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that involves men and boys working to end violence against women and girls.

'Hyper-masculinity' an issue, coach says

"Universities are a microcosm of society and just as vulnerable to the attitudes, hyper-masculinity and gender-equity issues that lead to gender-based violence," Steve Bryce, head coach of the U of R's football team, said at the Friday announcement.

Bryce also cited studies showing that sexual assault and attempted sexual assault of women are "the most common violent crime committed on university campuses today."

Project leader Roz Kelsey, an instructor at the university, was praised for her dedication to promoting safe campus initiatives. Kelsey spoke about the important role men must play in leading change.

"What's socially acceptable for men these days is often very, very unhealthy," Kelsey said. "We need to look how masculinity is produced and how that manifests in very detrimental results."

University of Regina instructor Roz Kelsey, a project lead for a UR Safe initiative, spoke about the importance of examining how masculinity is defined. (CBC)

Timmons noted how the Man Up program at the university supports a safe campus.

"Its key concept is embracing positive ideals of masculinity," Timmons said.

Timmons concluded her remarks with a strong message.

"On behalf of my daughter and all of the young women who have experienced sexual assault on our campus, let's end it," she said.

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