The Our Turn press conference was held at FSS on Oct. 11. Photo:Parker Townes.
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U of O’s policy 67b scores a ‘B,’ according to campaign combating sexual violence

On Oct. 11, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) held a press conference to launch the Our Turn Action Plan, in collaboration with the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA).

According to the Facebook event for the press conference, Our Turn is a national student movement aimed at combating campus sexual violence. There are 21 student groups party to the movement, including the SFUO and CUSA.

Three Carleton University students, Caitlin Salvino, Kelsey Gilchrist, and Jade Cooligan Pang initially developed the plan, after experiencing frustration with their administration’s sexual violence response policy.

“We realized that this wasn’t a Carleton problem. This was a university problem, a societal problem,”  said Gilchrist.

As a result, the students teamed up with the Student Society of McGill University to release The National Our Turn Action Plan to end campus sexual violence.

The main focus of the campaign is to bring awareness to the kinds of sexual violence that occurs on university campuses, which includes sexist jokes, cat calling, harassment, and assault. The key elements of the action plan are, to prevent campus sexual violence, to support survivors on campus, and to advocate for reforms at the campus, provincial, and national levels.

“It’s not sex, it’s violence,” was the message that was repeated throughout the conference.

The event featured testimonies of survivors of sexual violence, as well as discussions by members of the SFUO on what is currently being done to address the issue.

Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi, the federation’s vice-president equity, said that the U of O is currently in the first year review period of their sexual violence prevention policy.

But according to the action plan’s Campus Sexual Violence Policy Scorecard, the U of O’s policy currently sits at a ‘B.’  One of the shortcomings of the policy is how little it is advertised to students. “How many students know that we have a policy?” Moumouni-Tchouassi said. “To have arms open in the dark means nothing to a lot of people.”

As part of the review of sexual violence prevention policies, the SFUO is collecting feedback, concerns, and statements from survivors of sexual violence. They are looking at everyway possible to incorporate this feedback into the creating of new, more accessible, policies for students at the U of O.

“I have been attempting to bring forward the many concerns that have been brought up to me from survivors and students on campus, but also as someone who has been doing sexual violence prevention work for a while now,” said Moumouni-Tchouassi.

The SFUO is currently receiving feedback from students to incorporate safer and more accessible sexual violence policies.