The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education releases its first progress report

Students walk through the Accolade corridor
Students walk through the Accolade corridor

The Centre for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education (otherwise known as “The Centre”) at York University has released its first progress report since it was established in July 2018.

The progress report, which covers the period from July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019, offers insight into The Centre’s wide-ranging list of accomplishments, including a comprehensive, pan-University effort to build awareness and advocacy about sexual violence, disclosure and support. Also included in the report are statistics detailing the sexual violence incidences reported during The Centre’s first year, and the number of cases resolved or under investigation.

Debbie Hansen

“The Centre staff are a dedicated team of individuals who have come together and grown into a strong capable team making this work possible. They continue to support the community in a variety of ways and their commitment to this work is evident in the report,” said Debbie Hansen, executive director of community support and services. “The information provided enables York community members to be aware of the University’s ongoing commitment to addressing sexual violence on campus. It outlines The Centre’s progress, in order to create a transparent view into the work that is done while also continuing to foster communication with our community.”

It is important for both new and returning students, faculty, staff and administration to be aware of the University’s commitment to addressing sexual violence on campus and The Centre’s report outlines the progress and effectiveness of its strategies in doing so.

During the reporting period, there were 304 individual cases that required care and support. Most of the cases pre-date the survivor being at York University and in the majority of the cases, the other party was a non-community member. There were 48 formal complaints, with 21 of these complaints still under investigation. The remaining 27 complaints have been resolved, either informally or formally, with one complaint dropped.

Support, response and education a key focus

An integral part of The Centre’s activity pertains to its role providing support, response and education activities related to sexual violence. The Centre was created to serve as a single point of contact for University community members and offers integrated, holistic sexual assault response, support, advising, counseling, advocacy and case management services.

Key aspects in the report detail training and education initiatives, including The Centre’s two-step training module focused on education about policies and procedures pertaining to sexual violence response. The report reveals that for part one of the training (an introductory course that offers information about policies and procedures related to sexual violence response and awareness), The Centre issued 466 certificates of completion. For part two of the training (how to support an individual’s disclosure of sexual violence), 114 certificates of completion were issued.

The Centre’s newly renovated space offers a calm atmosphere for its clients

Hansen reinforced the fact that The Centre is actively engaged with the community.

“Awareness campaigns and workshops are integral to educating about sexual violence as well as changing attitudes and behaviours that continue to perpetuate the issue. Raising awareness allows the community to be aware of where to access support, where to go to work on preventative solutions and allows individuals to feel empowered to support one another,” said Hansen.

The report captures staff activities dedicated to building awareness about the services offered by The Centre. During the first year of its existence, The Centre engaged with more than 2,500 community members who took part in more than 60 information sessions that were held in various departments and divisions at the University. The Centre’s staff delivered 12 different class talks during the first year.

Working with students to raise awareness

The Centre has also collaborated with the York Federation of Students, the York University Graduate Students Association and the Glendon College Students Union to deliver awareness activities. Key among these activities in the 2018-19 academic year related to orientation events. More than 1,500 students were trained in the Active Bystander program, 4,000+ undergraduate orientation kits and teaching assistant orientation packages contained information about The Centre and more than 6,000 first-year students and orientation leaders also received consent training.

Working with Vanier College Productions, The Centre updated and produced a staging of the play There is No Maybe, for the 2018-19 #WeAREYU Welcome Day event held during fall orientation. The one-act play was presented to first-year students in a live performance featuring the actors from York University’s Vanier College Productions. There Is No Maybe explores the important issues surrounding consent on campus between university students. It carries a direct message that with respect to intimacy, if it is not clear, and it is not enthusiastic, it is not consent. The play was created to combat rape culture and teaches students what their options are when confronted with issues surrounding sexual violence. The Centre’s staff worked to ensure the play involved cases of sexual violence that can happen on any university or college campus or in any situation. The play offered insight into gender, equality, the #MeToo movement, historical incidents and flashbacks as well as the many ways students could support and/or intervene in situations.

In addition to all of these activities, the small but mighty team at The Centre also trained peer athletes in Sport & Recreation to help them support and receive disclosures. A male-identified group was established to assist male survivors of sexual violence, reduce stigma and provide information on how to access support. The Centre participated in the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Student Voices on Sexual Violence Climate Survey in 2018 and created resources for distribution to community members. An overall summary was provided to all institutions. The Centre will work with what the Provincial government has provided to continue to enhance awareness, supports and services.

There are many other activities covered in the report, which can be downloaded from

To learn more about The Centre’ activities or to arrange for a presentation, visit, or call The Centre at 416-736-5211 (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week).