Melody Petlock is Mount Allison’s SHARE Advisor. SHARE offers preventative education and response to sexualized violence offenses like sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homophobia and transphobia.
In her position for nearly 20 years, Petlock has helped to establish the SHARE program as it is known today at Mount Allison as well as policies, procedures, and programming relating to sexualized violence on campus.
The SHARE model is based on an American sexual assault response program Petlock read about. The program offered 24-hour response, so the SHARE phone line was born.
“Student life is not 9-5. I want to be available when students need me,” says Petlock. “SHARE focuses on community, response, education, and prevention. The program is for the community by the community. We’re all in this together. We all SHARE responsibility.”
Mount Allison has offered support services around sexual assault and sexual harassment for nearly 30 years and has had campus-wide policies in place since that time. The new Sexual Violence Prevention and Response policy, a stand-alone, campus-wide policy, was introduced in 2016.
The SHARE office is part of the Student Affairs Department but serves faculty, staff and students.
“Everything that affects faculty and staff affects students,” Petlock explains, “It made sense to base this kind of service out of Student Affairs.”
As the SHARE Advisor Petlock coordinates a team of Student Affairs professionals and student peer educators who offer education and support and are ready to help anyone who has experienced gender-based violence such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, homophobia, transphobia, or intimate partner violence (abuse).
The office also works with local community partners, including the Sackville RCMP, Hospital manager, SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner), and local sexual violence outreach workers. Petlock liaises closely with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre, Autumn House, Crossroads for Women and advisors doing similar response and prevention work at other Maritime Universities.
“We’re in contact with many of these individuals on a regular basis and try to get everyone together around the table semi-annually to discuss the needs around the Mount Allison and Sackville communities,” explains Petlock. “We want to stay on top of issues and make sure our programming meets these needs.”
Petlock says her network for SHARE peer educators is also an essential group.
“Having student voices in our programming is key, I’m not an undergrad anymore. Student voices and experiences informing how we do things is essential.” she says.
This semester, SHARE is collaborating with several groups and departments on campus, and with services in the community, to develop active and passive education about cyberbullying, cybermisogyny, consent and healthy relationships. Another important collaborative project is developing events for International Women’s Week (March 5-9) and acting as an advisor to the upcoming Feminist Leadership Conference.
Petlock has always been passionate about feminism and social justice and says she became formally involved with sexualized violence issues as a Women’s Studies student at the University of Toronto in the early 80s.
“I remember listening to the news of the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal and, when the Paul Bernardo crimes started happening, I knew I had to do something so I started a Coalition Against Violence Against Women in my neighbourhood at that time,” she says. “Then, as governments began mandating sexual harassment policies into the early 90s, I was involved in writing a lot of those policies for different organizations.”
Petlock worked in public relations before moving to social and community work. Along with her work in the SHARE office, she is also the founder and executive director of the Daybreak Activity Centre, offering mental health support for adults who live in the Tantramar Region.
With a Master’s in Adult Education from Mount Saint Vincent University, Studies in Social Work from the University of Waterloo, and a Certificate in Home and Community Rehabilitation from Brock University, her focus has remained the same throughout her career — on meeting needs and empowering people on a highly-individualized basis.
“I believe in client-centred service – not ‘one size fits all’” she says. “Every situation, whether with SHARE or Daybreak, is different. I work on two principles when helping my clients — ‘Whatever it Takes’ and, if that doesn’t work, ‘Find Another Way.”
Learn more about SHARE at mta.ca/share