By Alethea Ng
Female students are more likely than their male counterparts to financially support the sexual assault hotline operated by the Ryerson Students’ Union, according to a poll of 1,178 undergraduate Ryerson students.
Fifty-two per cent of female respondents said they were likely to pay optional ancillary fees to the RSU to fund the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line, while only 38 per cent of men said they would do the same.
The Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line is a telephone line by which victims of sexual violence can access peer-to-peer support and be directed to other available resources on campus and in Toronto.
Financial support for the line may fall in the 2019-2020 school year due to the provincial government’s decision to make several school fees, including funding for student unions, optional for university students.
Ryerson student Nick Thompson said that although he will continue to pay most of the optional fees, he’s worried that the provincial government’s decision might end up defunding important services on campus, such as the support line.
“It’s such a small amount for everyone to contribute to have such a large impact,” Thompson said.
Varying support for the phone line
First-year Ryerson School of Journalism students surveyed 1,179 Ryerson University students in person and online between March 1-4, 2019.
Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20; it may be larger for subgroups.
When asked how likely they were to opt out of paying for the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line, 52 per cent of female-identifying respondents said they were somewhat or very unlikely to opt out, compared to 38 per cent of male-identifying respondents.
Twenty-eight per cent of women and 32 per cent of men said they were neutral or not sure, while 18 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men said they were somewhat or very likely to opt out of the hotline’s ancillary fees.
Fashion design student Atifa Nasiri said she’s likely to opt out when the fees become optional.
Nasiri said she would pay for something that would help her personally, but that “there’s other ways to get help” for sexual assault survivors.
Men less likely to say they will fund phone line
A greater percentage of men than women indicated on the poll that they would likely opt out of the ancillary fees funding the line.
Lauren Mongelli, who studies business management at Ryerson, said that she thinks the gender discrepancy might be because men don’t realize that they too can be victims of sexual violence.
“Sexual assault can happen to anyone, and I think a lot of people are blind to that,” she said.
Ali Iqbal, a first-year politics and governance student, said that he thinks men may be undereducated and lack information when it comes to understanding sexual violence.
“When we talk to everyone more about sexual assault, a lot of people will understand that it’s a real and big issue that we should all be worried about,” he said.