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Sexual violence policy consultation comes to an end

By Saima Asad, February 14 2017 —

month-long consultation on the University of Calgary’s new campus sexual violence policy closed on Feb. 8. The policy, which has been in the works for nearly two years, opened for student consultation on Jan 9.

The sexual violence policy aims to provide a framework for addressing sexual assault prevention and reduction at the U of C, while also improving consent education and support services for victims of sexual assault.

According to U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall, the sexual violence policy consultation had “strong participation from the community,” with over 300 responses by Feb. 8. She said 43 per cent of responses came from students.

“Overall, the feedback has been supportive of the policy and its role in helping create a safer campus,” Marshall said.

Students’ Union vice-president student life Patrick Ma sat on the implementation committee for the sexual violence policy this year. He said though initially there was a large response rate, participation dropped “significantly” towards the end of the consultation period. Overall, he said the feedback was largely in support of the new policy.

“There’s a large approval of the policy, which is a good thing,” he said.

Ma also said there are some points in the policy that the university wants to get more feedback on, including the scope of the policy’s application reaching beyond the U of C campus.

“There’s some topics that we were looking to get more feedback on or that we thought people would have different opinions [on], like the scope of the policy,” Ma said.

The policy currently encompasses university members that are victims of sexual assault or harassment off campus. Ma said the university received positive responses in support of the scope.

The policy and protocol subcommittee of the sexual violence strategy is now implementing the feedback they received. The consultation results will be discussed at General Faculties Council later this semester.

“We are now taking time to assess the feedback submitted and consider how changes may be integrated into the draft policy,” Marshall said. “It is still early in our assessment to know exactly how the policy may change, but we will be sharing broad themes with the campus community in the coming weeks.”

There is no set date for the policy’s final approval, but the committee hopes to have it done by the end of the academic year.

“We’ve taken quite a bit of time to write a comprehensive policy and then we’ve also given it out to the broader campus community. I think we’re moving in the right steps and I think we’re pretty proud of that,” Ma said.

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