Sexual assault program at University of Windsor expanding
The University of Windsor is expanding a program that teaches students how to be more active in stopping sexual assaults on campus.
Dusty Johnstone, a learning specialist in women's studies at the university, has taken over the program and said sexual assaults on university campuses are an under-reported crime.
"We might get two, three, four reports a year," said Johnstone "That is in no way reflective of the actual incident rates on our campus,"
That's why after four years the bystander initiative that has trained 800 student on how to intervene if they see an assault happen, is expanding.
"We are really focused on the idea of men and women working together, that this isn't an initiative for women, that men play such an important role," she said.
Dean of Students, Clayton Smith, is on board.
"I mean, if you have been sexually assaulted, you have been physically harmed," said Smith. "We need that student to get health care, to get counselling support. All those things are critical. We do not want that student to kind of go underground to try to deal with it themselves."
Johnstone said taking the course may also help those who have been assaulted.
"The experience of going through our workshop can be very validating to hear that there are other people who find this situation to be wrong … they care about what happened to you and it's very empathetic and supportive," she said.
The program also works to make the campus safer, said Smith.
"The idea of the bystander initiative was to really empower people to help them understand their civic responsibility and to really help their colleges, students lead safe and well lives while they're university students."
He advises reporting incidents to campus police is a first step, and wants students to know his office is always open if they need help.