By Saima Asad, April 27 2017 —
General Faculties Council unanimously voted to approve the University of Calgary’s new Sexual Violence Policy at a meeting on April 13. The policy has been in the works for over two years.
Given GFC’s approval, the policy will go through the Human Resources and Governance Committee and the U of C Board of Governors in May before it is ratified.
A draft of the policy was available for online consultation between Jan. 9 and Feb. 8 this year. Senior Director of Student Services Jennifer Quin chaired the Subcommittee for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence. She said at the GFC meeting that she was “very happy” with the campus community’s involvement in the consultation.
According to Quin, the consultation website received over 1,700 unique page views. The policy received 314 written responses, 44 per cent of which came from U of C students.
Changes made following the consultation period were largely for clarification and changes in wording. These included clarifying the balance of rights between respondents and complainants, the role of the ombudsperson, unsubstantiated complaints and the role of the sexual violence support advocate (SVSA). The SVSA will provide support for members of the campus community who have experienced or been impacted by sexual violence. The U of C is currently hiring someone for the role.
Consent Awareness and Sexual Education (CASE) club vice-president external Hilary Jahelka sat on the implementation committee for the policy this year. She said most of the changes that came through the consultation process were to ensure the policy was as inclusive as possible.
“Most of the changes are just tweaking, making sure that it’s survivor-centred,” Jahelka said.
The U of C specifically sought more feedback on the scope of the policy, which applies to incidents of sexual violence both on and off campus.
“Eighty per cent [of respondents] thought the scope was appropriate. Some of those who said ‘no’ thought it should be expanded and include online interactions,” Quin said at the meeting.
Several GFC members expressed their support for the policy and asked questions at the April 13 meeting. Questions included whether contractors hired by the U of C would be included in the policy and a complainant’s choice to report confidentially.
“This policy is a result of extensive consultation, feedback and research and helps to create a safer environment for the entire campus community,” U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall said in a statement. “We look forward to the next stages of the approval process as we work to implement this important initiative.”
As the incoming Students’ Union vice-president student life, Jahelka will continue working on the policy next year.
“This is something that I’m extremely passionate about,” she said. “CASE has worked hard to get this ball rolling and to see it actually be implemented is really exciting.”
Correction: A previous version of this story mentioned the consultation website received 17,000 views. It, in fact, received 1,700. The Gauntlet apologizes to its readers for this error.