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U of C sexual violence policy ready for consultation

By Scott Strasser, January 10 2017 —

The University of Calgary’s new sexual violence policy is officially open for public consultation.

A draft of the new campus-wide policy can be found on the university’s policies and procedures website and is viewable from Jan. 9 until 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 8.

“We anticipate there will be changes made to the document, but we wanted to give everyone in the community the opportunity to respond,” U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall said.

Once implemented, the sexual violence policy will outline how the U of C addresses sexual assault on and off campus, consent education and what resources are available at the U of C for victims of sexual assault.

Marshall says sexual violence and harassment are among the most critical issues that universities across North America face.

“The policy is really about when sexual violence happens, how do we respond?” she said.

Procedures for addressing sexual assault and harassment — as well as education programs for consent — have increased in recent years at the U of C.

In 2015, the Women’s Resource Centre partnered with the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education student club (CASE) to launch a three-year sexual assault prevention project called Ask First: Creating a Culture of Consent.

The year before, CASE introduced Bystander Intervention Training at the U of C to teach Den and Black Lounge employees to be proactive in recognizing possible sexual assault cases before they occur.

Development of the campus sexual violence policy started in 2015 when the U of C created the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence. Administration said the reasoning for the subcommittee was that many universities in Canada already have institutional strategies in place for addressing sexual violence.

“The piece about this policy that is more consistent with what other institutions have done is that it relates to everybody on campus and it relates to events not only on campus, but off campus as well,” Marshall said.

One of the subcommittee’s six recommendations was for the university to create a standalone policy on sexual violence that applied to the U of C community as a whole. An implementation committee was put together with representatives from student groups including the Students’ Union and CASE. The implementation committee aims to put together the sexual violence policy based on best practices. 

“It makes sense to try and get an accurate picture of what sexual violence looks like on this campus,” said SU vice-president student life Patrick Ma, who sits on the implementation committee. “In terms of the consultation, we think it’s really good this has been opened up to the broader community, so that in case we’ve missed anything, a variety of opinions can be brought up.”

After the consultation period ends on Feb. 8 the policy will go through General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors for final approval later this semester.

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