CMU partners with REES, new sexual violence reporting tool
This fall, CMU has launched a partnership with REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors), a new online platform for reporting sexual violence on campuses. Eleven universities and colleges, all the post-secondary institutions in Manitoba except for the University of Manitoba, have committed to signing on to the initiative in 2020 or 2021.
Charlie Peronto, CMU’s Director of Student Life, says CMU is excited to partner with these other educational institutions and work collaboratively to break down the barriers to reporting sexual violence.
“REES is a sexual violence reporting tool that empowers survivors to be able to own their story. It’s trauma-informed and survivor-centric and it also meets a new generation of students where they are,” says Peronto. Students today are comfortable online, and may even prefer to communicate that way, so opportunities to make first contact online are important to have available.
Survivors can choose to make a report three ways: anonymously, to the university campus, or to the police. They can even enter a report into the system and choose not to submit it, using it more as a record for their own use. Reports submitted to CMU are totally confidential and go to Peronto, or Sandra Loeppky, Coordinator of International Student & Accessibility Programs, in the event of Peronto’s absence.
“I think it’s a really cool program, because it’s about giving survivors options,” says Peronto. REES also helps survivors access resources, whether those are sexual violence resources on CMU’s campus or public health services like Klinic Community Health in Winnipeg.
The Repeat Perpetrator Identification (RPI) component of REES helps campuses work together to discern larger patterns of sexual violence, such as identifying and dealing with a person that has perpetrated sexual violence against multiple people on different campuses.
Peronto is enthusiastic about partnering with REES, but says it is a tool that will work in collaboration with CMU’s existing policies, rather than replace them. “It does not remove our commitment to speaking about this, empowering survivors on our own campus,” he says. “CMU is committed to continuing to train faculty, staff, and students about consent, about appropriate relationships, and also to destigmatize sexual violence.”
CMU implemented a new sexual violence policy in 2018, which is a comprehensive, trauma-informed, survivor-centred policy for the whole campus. All CMU Student Life staff are trained to receive disclosures of sexual violence in person, and continue to be available to receive those.
CMU students, faculty, and staff will receive more information about REES and training on how to use it in the first month of the semester.