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University seeks student input on sexual harassment policy

By Fabian Mayer, March 19 2015 —

A University of Calgary survey seeking students’ opinions on sexual harassment and assault concluded this week.

University administration is in the process of updating its sexual harassment policy for the first time in 25 years.

Under the current policy, sexual harassment is defined as “any type of conduct that emphasizes the sexuality, gender or sexual orientation of an individual and creates for them an offensive, intimidating or hostile environment.”

The Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence sub-committee, which the U of C formed in January to submit suggestions for the new policy, created the survey. The questionnaire asks students how they define sexual violence and how concerned they are about sexual violence on campus.

U of C senior director of student services Jennifer Quin chairs the committee.

“We wanted to ensure that we had a good understanding of student perceptions of the issue,” Quin said. “We’re getting a good strong response rate of undergraduate and graduate students.”

Results are currently unofficial, as the last committee meeting was held a few days before the survey closed. At that time, 118 people had responded. Seventy-three of the survey’s respondents up to that point were women.

Students’ Union vice-president student life Jonah Ardiel sits on the sub-committee as a student representative.

“The mandate of the committee is to provide recommendations to senior leadership within the university to improve the current harassment policy,” Ardiel said. “They’re soliciting student feedback to help with that.”

President of the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education club Emily Leedham also sits on the committee. She said the survey is a good way to consult students.

“I think it’s great. It’s just supposed to capture a snapshot of the student perspective, but it’s not comprehensive by any means,” Leedham said.

Leedham is optimistic that the survey will help the committee with their recommendations. She said it will be useful if they get enough feedback and if the answers are of a high quality.

The sub-committee will analyze the data and take the results of the survey into account when they consider what recommendations to make to provost Dru Marshall at the end of May.


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