Faculty & Teaching Support Staff

How the SVSPO Can Help You

The SVSPO offers confidential support and guidance for any member of the SFU and FIC community who has been impacted by sexual violence, including faculty and teaching support staff. The SVSPO can assist people who have experienced or witnessed sexual violence or who are providing support to someone else.

To access the SVSPO’s support services:

  • It does not matter when or where the sexual violence occurred.
  • A report is not required or expected.

Here are some situations where we can help:

  • You have been impacted directly by sexual violence;
  • A student or peer discloses an experience of sexual violence to you;
  • An incident occurs in your class or lab.

How to Contact the SVSPO

SVSPO case managers are available Monday-Friday, 9am-4:30pm (excluding statutory holidays) by email at sv-support@sfu.ca or by phone at 778.782.7233. For other options, please visit the Contact Us page.

Our education team offers free, on-demand workshops and outreach sessions for all members of the SFU and FIC communities (students and employees). Visit Request a Workshop to learn more. 

Responding to Disclosures

What is a disclosure?

  • To disclose an experience of sexual violence simply means to tell another person. 
  • A disclosure could occur in personal conversations, emails, assignments, or group discussions. 
  • A student or peer may disclose an experience of sexual violence to you for a variety of reasons. 
  • A disclosure does not initiate a formal report to SFU.

What is your role?

  • To safeguard privacy and confidentiality
  • To provide a supportive and compassionate initial response
  • To offer a referral to the SVSPO or other support services
  • To respect the person’s decisions about what’s best for them

How to respond to a disclosure

Keep a copy of the Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence and Misconduct Guide easily accessible.

Listen:

Respond with compassion and refrain from asking prying questions about what happened.

Believe:

Validate their feelings and let them know that it is not their fault.

Many people who experience sexual violence blame themselves or fear they will not be believed. This fear of not being believed often prevents them from disclosing their experience or getting support.

Empower:

Ask them what they need or how you can support them. Offer to connect them with the support resources of their choice.

If the person wants to report the incident to SFU, refer them to the SVSPO. A case manager can guide them through the reporting process. More information about SFU reporting options is available here. 

Safeguard privacy and confidentiality:

Do not share any identifying information without their explicit consent. An SVSPO case manager can provide guidance without requiring you to disclose the student's identity.

De-brief with an SVSPO case manager:

An SVSPO case manager can provide you with guidance, resources, and personal support.

Responding to disclosures in assignments or group discussions

Disclosures in written assignments:

  • Acknowledge the student’s willingness to share this difficult personal information with you. This could simply consist of a comment like, “Thank you for sharing this with me.”
  • If it seems like the student is actively struggling with the impacts of sexual violence, you could also include information about support resources, such as the SVSPO.
  • Safeguard privacy and confidentiality: contact an SVSPO case manager if you have questions about maintaining confidentiality.

Disclosures in group discussions:

  • Model a supportive response by acknowledging the disclosure and validating the student’s experience.
  • Remind the class that support services are available to SFU and FIC students who have been impacted by sexual violence.
  • Remind the class to respect privacy by not sharing the person’s story without their permission.
  • You may choose to follow up with the student to offer a referral to any campus support services.
  • De-brief with an SVSPO case manager if you would like guidance or support.

Addressing Incidents in Class

Addressing an incident in your classroom or learning environment can simply mean pointing out the behaviour or language and saying that it does not correspond to the expectations for respectful conduct in the syllabus. If desired, you can redirect by inviting the individual who engaged in problematic behaviour to follow up with you outside of class time if they have questions. You may also follow up with your class to remind them of support resources.

The Office of Student Support, Rights, and Responsibilities, the Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE) and the SVSPO can consult with you and provide guidance if you are unsure about how to address any issues that come up in your classroom.

Pedagogy and Promising Practices

  • Establish expectations for respectful conduct and provide information about support resources. This information can be included in the syllabus or introductory section of the course.
  • Consider using content notes when teaching content related to sexual violence.
  • Allow for choice. Offer alternative ways to participate and/or alternative materials or topics. Creating flexibility and choice does equate with reduced academic rigour.
  • Model language that recognizes the validity of people’s experiences of sexual violence.
  • Be prepared for disclosures in class discussions and assignments.
  • Address harmful comments and behaviour in classes or other learning environments.

Content Notes

Content notes (also referred to as “content warnings”) give students advance notice of content that could be distressing for people impacted by sexual violence or other forms of trauma.

How to use content notes

Content notes can be used in the following ways:

  • In course outlines or syllabi: to indicate general course content pertaining to sexual violence
  • In syllabi: to indicate specific readings, assignments, or classes that will address sexual violence

A content note should include the following elements:

  • A concise description of the type of violence
  • Specific information about the identities of the person/people targeted (if possible)
  • An explanation of how the class will engage with the content and how it relates to the class’ overall learning goals
  • Information about support resources

Advantages of using content notes

  • Content notes empower all students to proactively take steps to maintain their well-being as they engage with the course material. It is particularly empowering for students who have been impacted by sexual violence.
  • Using a content note does not indicate that a topic should or may be avoided.
  • While it is impossible to identify all potential causes of distress in your course material, content notes can help mitigate the negative impacts on your students.

Sample Content Notes

For general course content:

Content Note: In this course, we will discuss issues related to sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and racism. I recognize that this content may bring up difficult feelings for people who have been impacted by these issues. If you are concerned about this content, you are invited to seek support from one of the campus services listed below. We can also discuss how to achieve the same learning goal from a different pathway.

SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office
https://www.sfu.ca/sexual-violence.html
SFU Health & Counselling Services
https://www.sfu.ca/students/health/

For a specific reading, class or assignment:

Content note: This text includes descriptions of sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and racism against a Black woman. We will discuss this reading in class on September 24. If you have concerns about your ability to engage with this material, you are invited to seek confidential support from one of the campus services listed below. We can also discuss how to achieve the same learning goal from a different pathway.

SFU’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office
https://www.sfu.ca/sexual-violence.html
SFU Health & Counselling Services
https://www.sfu.ca/students/health/

SFU Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy

SFU’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education, and Support Policy (GP 44) outlines the following:

  • what constitutes sexual violence
  • the jurisdictions of the policy
  • support resources for SFU community members
  • reporting and investigation processes
  • the mandate of the SVSPO

Acknowledgement

This webpage has been developed collaboratively by the SVSPO and the Centre for Educational Excellence. We would also like to thank the UBC Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office for allowing us to adapt their Faculty and Teaching Staff webpage for the SFU community.