In order to fulfill the commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful work and learning environment, the University of Manitoba actively listens to the needs and recommendations of the UM community. The Sexual Violence Resource Centre (SVRC) is one of the most recent support units to open as a direct result of these consultations.
The SVRC provides education, resources, and other information regarding sexual violence for all students, faculty, and staff members. Bre Woligroski, the SVRC Coordinator, expands on the myriad of ways the office can support the University community. “We’re involved in prevention and response education, and we also provide support for people who have had experiences with sexual violence themselves or are supporting others who have.”
Students can also receive assistance in finding and accessing related resources within and beyond the UM environment. “If a student has had an experience and they’d like to access counselling, or find a safe place to live, we can help with information on that,” Woligroski adds.
The SVRC recognizes that people’s experiences with sexual violence and the process of navigating these events will vary across all individuals. Thus, the office prioritizes providing a safe, inclusive, and accessible space where people can share their stories without doubting that they’re being supported, regardless of how that process takes form.
“We’re rooted in a trauma-informed and survivor-centred approach. It’s not our job to persuade or pressure anyone to take any action, but it’s our job to sit and listen to what is offered, and assist the person in their goals in that moment. We focus on the survivors and what they need,” Woligroski says. “What affects their studies, work, and personal life, we can help with resources to assist in those complications.”
Confidentiality is also of utmost importance in the SVRC’s mandate. While the office keeps records of its contacts, these are separated from any other records on or off campus and information is not released without permission of the people involved, except under circumstances required by law.
Although campus drop-in visits are currently unavailable due to COVID-19, the office can be contacted by phone or email. Individualized support services are still accessible by phone calls or secure video chat appointments.
Bringing in the Bystander, a program that provides opportunities for students to actively engage in ways to prevent sexual violence, has also adapted to remote delivery. Student facilitators are currently hosting virtual workshops where students are trained by their own peers in multiple approaches to responding to sexual violence while building a supportive atmosphere for survivors.
A year after opening its doors, the SVRC has tremendous plans to expand their offerings. Current circumstances have delayed the rollout process for new programs, but Woligroski remains eager to continue developing the SVRC and its support initiatives, including expanded educational initiatives around consent and healthy relationships as well as a peer support program. Thus, students can directly contribute to making the University of Manitoba a safer environment with a greater focus on respect and consent.