Over the course of the past month, I have continued my research on the topic of sexual assault resources both on and off campus. I was able to get interviews with both the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre (KSAC) in regard to their services, and I was also able to have a discussion with the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) regarding their Cover Me initiative.
KSAC was started by Trent students in 1977, specifically volunteers responding to rapes on campus. Since then, it has developed into an anti-oppressive, anti-racist organization. Most of their funding comes from the Ministry of Attorney General to support violence against women, and they rely on Trent University, Fleming College, United Way, community donations, and fundraisers to support all other genders, including men, non-binary, and two-spirit individuals that are left out of government funding. Some of the services they offer are individual counselling, various groups on topics such as bystander intervention and how to support a friend, and programs such as the Mending Program. They also work with initiatives on the Trent campus such as Consent @ Trent, and the Cover Me initiative run by the TCSA.
When questioned on the rate of student use of their resources, they were unable to give an exact number, but at the beginning of the previous fall semester they talked to over 3000 students, the majority of them from Trent. Along with the previously mentioned services, they also offer monthly workshops at Trent, as well as workshops by community request. They also have a 24-hour crisis line, weekend webchats, and many different groups that range from drop-ins to booking.
The KSAC launched the Survivor’s Toolkit in March 2018. This resource was created in conjunction with the Peterborough police, victim services, the OPP, the Peterborough family health team, and the Peterborough hospital to create something accessible for those who want to either go to the hospital or get tested. It involves a guidebook outlining different procedures surrounding sexual assault and how to address it, such as legal aids and resources on next steps. It also involves a series of videos explaining what to expect during this process.
Within the interview of the TCSA, we discussed the Cover Me initiative. This initiative involves the safe sex kits put into first-year orientation bags. The TCSA gives out around 2000 welcome bags during orientation week and extra kits are put in the office, or on the promotions desk in the main floor of the Student Centre so that they are easily accessible. The kits are little envelopes containing lube, condoms, and a small information card about how to make a dental dam, as well as what safe sex means. There are also resource cards in it, usually from Robin Ocean and KSAC. These kits have been running for a long time, originally beginning with just condoms, and then expanded. The idea behind these kits are to familiarize students with talking about sex, and how to have safe sex.
In both these interviews, I found that the main barrier for both of these organizations is a lack of funding, resources, and personnel available to them. The KSAC had stated that right now, they are very swamped as requests for service are non-stop; they even have a waiting list, and are already booking three months in advance, with four to six months for individual counselling. However, recent assaults that have occurred in the past year to year and a half are given priority, and they try to get people in within a two-week span to have a consultation. In regard to the TCSA, the representative I spoke with also expressed that they are doing the best with what resources they have available, but that there is also a need for more funding and more manpower involved in both the security on campus, and for the administration in regard to the sexual assault and violence supports on campus.