The mahi of raising awareness supports our kaupapa of making tangible improvements to infrastructure that supports the normalisation and prevalence of sexual violence, in a series of areas. In partnership with the sexual violence sector, this work would inform the implementation of a national Best Practice Standard (BPS), which tertiary institutions would adopt under a continuous enhancement model.
Thursdays in Black campaigns towards a climate of accountability regarding sexual violence in tertiary environments. This includes tertiary providers keeping, and making publicly available, sexual victimisation disclosure stats on their campuses. We see this as addressing the culture of silence. We want this data to be used in measuring an institution’s position on a national Best Practice Standard (BPS). Created via consultation with the sexual violence sector, the BPS will include a series of measures we can use to assess where the strengths and weaknesses lie on different campuses, informing the work of the institution on improving their position. How institutions fare with the BPS should be publically available information.
Thursdays in Black wish to see national data on the nature and prevalence of sexual violence on campus and in tertiary environments. We acknowledge the importance of research being conducted with particular focuses for vulnerable communities. This would allow us to identify the patterns of harmful sexual behaviour in student communities, informing our priorities as the campaign develops. We demand that this research experiences absolutely no suppression from the institutions themselves. Thursdays in Black actively supports all students, staff and faculties in conducting this research.
Thursdays in Black campaigns for a comprehensive review of existing legislation at various institutions. This would include definitions of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and the processes for making complaints in regards to incidents or unsafe practices. This would require that all policies are fully supportive of victims and allows for anonymity when required or requested by the victim/survivor/complainant.
We will also campaign for awareness and action about the inadequacy of current New Zealand law, particularly in regards to the heteronormative and cisnormative definition of 'rape'.
Education & Conversation
Thursdays in Black campaigns for workshops, lectures and focus groups to be held with students of all year levels, regularly throughout the year. These focus groups would offer a range of discussions on defining sexual violence; its prevalence and nature in our communities; danger signs of unhealthy or abusive relationships, particularly those that are romantic and/or sexual; consent; and bystander intervention. Having difficult, even taboo, material brought to the students in an accessible manner in their own environments helps individual students to feel strong in their right to not be assaulted and their knowledge of what that truly means. It also helps perpetrators to understand when they have engaged in dangerous or inappropriate behaviour.
This must also be supported by education on gender and sexuality, to address the particular ways in which our LGBTQIA communities are experiencing sexual violence and gendered discrimination. The culture that encourages sexual violence is particularly informed by negative, misinformed attitudes about gender and gender identity and so this would be a vital part in making our campuses safer for these communities. The nature and delivery of this education would be designed in close partnership with organisations who specialise in LGBTQIA advocacy and support.
Training & Evaluation
Thursdays in Black campaigns for the establishment of standardised, compulsory training for Residential Assistants (RA) in student accommodation, due to the particular nature of their domestic, caretaking role in the lives of students. This training will focus on negotiating consent, healthy relationships, and defining sexual violence. Student advocates, counsellors, and any other positions of support on campuses should also be required to complete this training.
Where sexual violence, relationships, and consent education and training already exists in tertiary settings, Thursdays in Black will evaluate its comprehensiveness and effectiveness as informed by the sexual violence sector.
We also want to see greater understanding and compassion for the experiences of students with diverse genders and sexualities. Student leaders, student advocates, RAs, and counsellors need to be trustworthy, approachable and safe for people of these communities.