The University of Toronto Mississauga has launched a series of new programs to address and prevent violence against young women.
The Community Safety Plan is the work of the CampUS Safety Project – a joint initiative between U of T Mississauga and Interim Place women’s shelter, with funding from the federal government’s Status of Women Canada.
It brings together university students, staff and community-based service providers to ensure the safety of young women on campus.
Females between the ages of 15 and 25 years are at the highest risk of experiencing gender-based violence in Canada, with universities and colleges among the primary places to study, work and live for young women.
Vice-President and Principal Deep Saini said the plan’s priorities were to provide greater services to victims of gender-based violence, improved reporting of incidents of violence and better education on preventing violence against women.
“The University of Toronto Mississauga is a safe, well-policed campus with a close community on and around campus,” Principal Saini said.
“But violence against women is a fact and we have to remain vigilant about it. We are constantly aspiring to do better to prevent violence against women. This plan will help us work together to address both mental and physical violence.”
The Community Safety Plan follows a 12-month campus safety audit carried out by students, staff and Interim Place representatives.
The first phase of the CampUS Safety Project sought to identify the specific needs of young women on campus and develop a series of support programs.
While surveys conducted during the first phase found the majority of students and service providers viewed the U of T Mississauga campus as very safe for young women, some challenges and gaps were identified.
The Community Safety Plan will work to address the challenges identified in phase one through programs aimed at preventing and reducing violence against young women.
The four key priorities laid out in the plan focus on students preventing and reducing violence against young women, planning for young women’s physical safety needs, furthering the campus police reporting process for incidents of violence and providing healing support services for young women.