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New program helps faculty prevent sexual violence on campus

The Langara Sexual Respect Ambassador program aims to make staff and faculty a valuable asset in the fight against sexual violence

Langara marketing management instructor Stephanie Koonar teaches an integrated marketing communications class on Tuesday. Photo by Trevor Nault
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Reported by Trevor Nault

An ongoing workshop for Langara College teachers and faculty is in place to increase staff awareness of sexual misconduct on campus.

The recently implemented Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy is producing measurable results, said Maggie Ross, manager of student conduct and judicial affairs.

“What I’ve seen so far is that we have had a slight increase in the number of issues that have been reported to us,” Ross said.

Increase in reported misconduct attributed to new project

Ross attributes this increase in part to the Langara Sexual Respect Ambassador program, a pilot project designed to train teachers and faculty to be more knowledgeable of sexual misconduct on campus.

Since August, approximately 35 Langara staff and faculty members have been meeting once a month to train as Sexual Respect Ambassadors, equipping them with skills and knowledge to turn them into critical resources for student survivors of sexual violence.

Ross said the goal wasn’t necessarily to help employees, but to help students come forward by making staff and faculty as approachable and informed as possible.

Teachers teaching teachers

Stephanie Koonar, a volunteer program participant and marketing management instructor at Langara, attends training workshops and reports back to her department. In doing so, she said she acts as a resource for her colleagues and shares her training, elevating everyone’s level of knowledge and ability to act as ambassadors themselves.

“Our role as Sexual Respect Ambassadors is kind of three things: listen, respect and refer,” said Koonar.

Ross says they’re working with VOLT, Langara’s student volunteer program, and the Langara Students’ Union to recruit students for a modified student version of the program. Jennifer Cheddie, a student conduct officer, is helping to make that happen.

“It’s important, especially now with how rape culture is so pervasive,” said Cheddie.  “It’s a great opportunity to spread the word and get people talking.”

Koonar is hopeful the program will continue for the foreseeable future.

“I applaud the college for taking this on,” said Koonar. “I’m proud that we’re doing it.”

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