St. Clair College adopts sexual violence reporting platform | REES

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April 2022

St. Clair College adopts sexual violence reporting platform

St. Clair College students and staff have new options for reporting sexual violence and getting help.

The school announced Tuesday it has partnered with the sexual violence reporting platform REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors).

St. Clair College has joined several other Canadian post-secondary institutions, including the University of Windsor, in adopting the sexual violence reporting platform REES. (Submitted by St. Clair College).

St. Clair College students and staff have new options for reporting sexual violence and getting help.

The school announced Tuesday it has partnered with the sexual violence reporting platform REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors).

The website allows users to report incidents  — either anonymously or not — and get connected to supports on campus.

“It’s a safe and easy online reporting system for students and staff to be able to report sexual misconduct,” said Rebecca Demchuk, the school’s associate vice-president of safety, security and facilities management.

“And they can do so anonymously, or they can choose to reach out to the college. It will be 100 per cent their choice.”

Demchuk said the anonymous data collected by REES will help inform the school’s programming around sexual assault prevention.

According to Statistics Canada, 11 per cent of students who identify as women at Canadian colleges and universities said they were sexually assaulted in that setting during 2019, along with 4 per cent of those identifying as men.

While the campus community at St. Clair had the ability to make complaints prior to the launch of REES, the platform is intended to help address barriers.

“There is great hesitancy to come forward because they’re not sure what the college’s going to do and they’re not sure how it’s going to be addressed or who’s going to be told,” Demchuk said. “So, this helps them walk through that process before they have to tell anybody and puts the decision in their hands.”

St. Clair is first college in Ontario to use REES. The platform has been adopted by several other post-secondary schools in Canada, including the University of Windsor.

Mary Lobson, the founder and CEO of REES. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Mary Lobson, the founder and CEO of REES, said the reports submitted by users are encrypted. Given the sensitivity of the data, privacy and security were very important in the development of the tool.

According to feedback she’s heard from participating institutions, the platform has meant some people have come forward who might not have otherwise.

“That for us is really the most important thing, that we’re creating a space for survivors, for students, for faculty to reach out when they otherwise may not have,” she said.

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SOURCE: CBC News Windsor

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