Consent talk on campus
West Coast LEAF believes that post-secondary campuses can become more supportive places for sexual assault survivors when students understand the full range of options for seeking justice and healing, both within the criminal justice system and outside of it. We also believe that we can tackle the root causes of violence through conversations about the ethical and legal responsibility to get clear, affirmative, ongoing consent for all sexual activity. That’s why we’ve launched Only Yes Means Yes, a project to get students talking and learning about how the criminal justice system defines and deals with sexual assault, and what’s required under the law for sexual consent.
As of May 2017, post-secondary institutions are legally required to have policies dealing with sexual violence on campus. Many of these policies include some mention of educating students about sexual assault and consent, but what exactly will that education look like? West Coast LEAF believes that legal education is a vital component, and we look forward to unpacking complex legal issues with students through a nuanced and critical social justice lens.
What is Only Yes Means Yes?
Only Yes Means Yes is a project to create a workshop and a social-media-friendly online education tool about sexual assault and consent law for BC post-secondary students.
The project will be guided by an advisory committee of eight post-secondary students and by post-secondary staff and community members who will share input about how to make the project relevant and inclusive to post-secondary students in all their diversity.
The project is taking place between September 2017 and August 2018. We anticipate the pilot version of the workshop will be ready to present at post-secondary institutions in January or February 2018.
Listen to our interview about Only Yes Means Yes on CJSF 90.1 FM, SFU campus radio!
Why is West Coast LEAF taking on this project?
Since 1999, West Coast LEAF has reached many thousands of BC youth aged 10 to 15 with our No Means No workshop on sexual assault and consent, and have often received requests to present to post-secondary students.
We have also intervened in legal cases dealing with sexual assault, including most recently the inquiry into the victim-blaming conduct of former judge Robin Camp (which resulted in a recommendation to remove him from the bench) and College of Massage Therapists of BC v Scott (which clarified that governing bodies regulating health professions can take interim measures to protect the public from a practitioner accused of sexual assault or misconduct).
Currently, we are engaged in a law reform project called Dismantling the Barriers to Reporting Sexual Assault that will draw on the experiences and knowledge of sexual assault survivors, anti-violence workers, police, former Crown, retired judges, academics, and defense counsel to identify how the criminal justice system can better respond to reports of sexual violence. We expect that what we learn from Dismantling the Barriers will inform our work on Only Yes Means Yes.
Thank you for your interest in this project and in West Coast LEAF. We value your time, energy, and expertise!
If you are a post-secondary student, you can help us book a pilot workshop on your campus early in 2018 (keeping in mind that we have limited funding for travel outside of the Lower Mainland and unfortunately may not be able to travel to your community unless your school can cover our travel expenses). You can also share your input into the project and the educational materials we produce. Please contact Alana at 604-684-8772 extension 117 or education [at] westcoastleaf[dot] org to discuss this.
If you work for a post-secondary institution, you can be involved either by requesting a pilot workshop at your school or by providing input on the project in person, over the phone, or through an in-person meeting in Vancouver. For those requesting pilot workshops, please note that we have limited funding for travel outside of the Lower Mainland and unfortunately may not be able to travel to your community unless you can cover our travel expenses. We are particularly interested in receiving input on the project from people who can advise about how to make the project relevant for Indigenous students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ2+ students.
If you are a representative of an anti-violence organization or other community group, you can provide input on the project by email, over the phone, or through an in-person meeting in Vancouver. As mentioned above, we are particularly interested in hearing from people who can advise about how to make the project welcoming of Indigenous students, English language learners, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ2+ students.
If you are a lawyer with expertise in sexual assault law, you can volunteer your time to review our materials and provide feedback. Your contributions will be recognized in West Coast LEAF’s Annual Report and other print materials.
Get in touch
Anybody interested in Only Yes Means Yes is encouraged to contact Alana Prochuk, Manager of Public Legal Education at West Coast LEAF, to learn more. She can be reached at education [at] westcoastleaf [dot] org or 604-684-8772, extension 117. Her regular office days are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.
This project is made possible by generous funding from the Law Foundation of BC.