Calgary post-secondary institutions partner for workshops emphasizing consent

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In recognition of sexual violence awareness month in Alberta, three Calgary post-secondary institutions will be hosting consent workshops for students, staff and faculty members.

The University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and Bow Valley College are offering the 'Rethinking Consent' program in an effort to raise awareness to the issues of dating violence, domestic violence and sexual and gender-based violence.

According to the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, 45 per cent of adults in Alberta say they have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime.

Carla Bertsch, a sexual violence support advocate at the University of Calgary, says the issue is disturbingly prevalent on Canadian campuses, citing a September 2020 report from the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics that found 71 per cent of students had witnessed or experienced unwanted sexualized behaviour in 2019.

"On post-secondary campuses, prevalence rates of sexual and gender-based violence are concerning," said Bertsch in a statement released Monday. "Sexual Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to flip the conversation from messages of shame and blame, to messages that offer love, support and compassion."

Cari Ionson, a sexual violence response and awareness coordinator at Mount Royal University, says collective efforts are necessary steps towards "preventing perpetration from occurring and ending sexual violence both on and off of post-secondary campuses."

"Everyone has a role to play in ending sexual violence," said Ionson. "Collaborations across institutions are imperative because of how pervasive and systemically rooted sexual violence is."

The free two-part workshops will be conducted via Zoom videoconferencing and require pre-registration. Workshops will be held for students on Monday afternoons (May 10 and 17) as well as Wednesday evenings (May 12 and 19). The workshop for staff and faculty members is scheduled for Thursday afternoons (May 13 and 20)

For additional details, including registration information, visit Rethinking Consent: Creating Communities of Care.