Carleton communications has recently sent out another release on a proposed new Centre on campus. Amongst other things, it includes this:

‘The sexual assault centre will operate from a non-medical model with student-centred services at its core. Programs and services will also be available to staff and faculty.

Student-run peer support and peer education will be an integral part of the centre…, as it is recognized that peer support can be a very effective model of support for many students. Student volunteers will design and run peer programs and awareness campaigns in conjunction with the co-ordinator of sexual assault services. Student volunteers will receive supervision and support from the university┬╣s co-ordinator of sexual assault services, as is the case at the University of Alberta.’

This is quite different from when Equity Services last spoke to us on January 4th. We are encouraged, but apprehensive.

There is not yet a clear understanding of what role peer support will have, how students will be compensated for their work or what decision making power students will have. This release also fails to address the issue of ‘conflict of interest’. Additionally, Carleton has refused to acknowledge the role of the student-run, community funded sexual assault support line – the only current dedicated sexual assault service on Carleton’s campus. There’s also no mention of the Graduate Student levy.

There is still so much work that needs to be done. Namely, building of trust between Carleton university and its students and an understanding from university administrators that students know what’s best and deserve leadership positions.

It’s clear that student pressure over the past 5 years and in particular, over the past week have had a real impact on Carleton’s framing of this issue. Yes, we still have much work to do. But because of the support of students, staff, faculty and community allies, we are moving closer and closer to creating a campus that takes sexual assault seriously.

We remain dedicated to our goal of a student-run, university funded sexual assault centre on campus. But more than anything, we are fighting for a campus that is safe, supportive and working proactively to end sexual violence.

As always, we thank our allies for their continued support. Your work means a great deal to us.

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