Bishop’s University introduces online tool for reporting sexual violence | REES

News Room

February 2022

WRITTEN BY: Alyssia Rubertucci

Bishop’s University introduces online tool for reporting sexual violence

Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec – about 165 kilometres east of Montreal – has introduced a new online platform to make it easier for students to report cases of sexual violence on campus.

“It’s too late for those of us who were already afflicted by it,” says Genève Juneau, fourth year Applied Psychology student at Bishop’s University. 

Bishop’s was previously criticized over its handling of sexual assaults on campus. Back in November, students accused the university of not taking reports of these acts seriously, when messages were seen on a bridge by campus stating: “He raped me. I reported. He’s still in my class. BU take action.”

Quebec students allege inaction on sexual assaults at Bishop’s University

“I’m one of many girls who was drugged in 2018 at a Halloween party and after I reported it, they asked me questions like, ‘What were you wearing that night?’” says Juneau. “I never heard back.” 

The university says they’ve been making strides since then.

“The work is ongoing,” says Dr. Stine Linden-Andersen, dean of student affairs at Bishop’s University. “We increased the accessibility of reporting and we’re going to be working on clarifying what happens in the case of a formal complaint, and we’ve completely updated our website, as well as updated the policy.”

The school has now introduced this online platform called REES, becoming the first Quebec university to use it, joining others across Canada in Winnipeg and the Maritimes.

“Being a victim of sexual violence, I think it would have been nice to to even just see something that I could go to,” Juneau says. “Whereas the only place I could have gone to was one of the most formal [ways], basically making the equivalent of a police report,” she adds.

According to Statistics Canada, of the 71 per cent of post-secondary students surveyed in 2019 who witnessed or experienced unwanted sexual behaviours on campus, less than one in 10 said they spoke to someone at school about it.

With this new online reporting tool, students at Bishop’s won’t have to either.

“Survivors can opt out of answering any question, they could give as much or as little detail as they wish,” says Georgia LaPierre, junior co-chair, Sexual Culture Committee, Bishop’s University. “It’s quite literally all on the survivor’s terms.”

“That’s going to hopefully make more survivors comfortable coming forward,” says Dr. Linden-Andersen.

But some students say they now want to focus on prevention and protecting students.

“We now have all the tools to take survivors seriously and have a survivor centric approach,” says LaPierre. “But that doesn’t matter until our action is actually survivor centric.”

“We want to see perpetrators expelled from school, we want them taken out of classes,” she added.

The university promises an investigation and disciplinary actions when formal complaints are made. But for survivors, it’s not enough. 

“Survivor-centered means not forcing students to go make a formal report to the police if they don’t feel ready to do so, but instead taking disciplinary action on campus,” says Juneau. “The important thing is we want students to feel heard.”


SOURCE: CityNews Montreal