UNBC Addressing Issue of Sexual Violence on Campus
Prince George, B.C. – The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) has announced a new set of recommendations addressing the issue of sexual violence on campus.
It follows the creation in the spring of 2014 of the President’s Task Force on Sexual Violence which collaborated with students, faculty, staff and community members in assessing the matter.
The Task Force submitted its final report to UNBC president Dr. Daniel Weeks on September 16 which included the creation of a steering committee which will work with the university’s senior administration team along with other community members as appropriate.
The committee includes the following members: Faculty member Dr. Gary Wilson, Assistant Director Student Affairs Brenda Slomka, Northern Women’s Centre Executive Director Sarah Boyd, and Human Resources Manager Kerry Roberts.
“I’ll be meeting with them today to give them some direction going forward and I tasked all the VP’s here to begin working on this now.”
He points out UNBC had been working on the issue prior to the provincial government’s passing this year of Bill 23 – the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act which requires every public university, college and institute in the province to develop a sexual misconduct policy.
“So in many ways we were kind of out of the gate early in terms of looking at what might need to be done in terms of our community and getting some input from our community to ensure we have a safe and healthy environment for our students and we’re well on the way to that.”
Weeks points out the issue of sexual violence isn’t unique to just one school or area.
“This is a societal issue. It’s not unique to any institution or geographic location, this is something we’re grappling with as a country and as a society.”
There are 13 recommendations in total including the creation of a steering committee. The others are:
- Within a year, UNBC develop a seamless protocol for receiving both confidential and non-confidential disclosures of sexual violence and how to then report that a disclosure has been received.
- UNBC provide trauma-informed training to university community members who are likely to receive reports of disclosures.
- UNBC create an accessible environment for initiating disclosures of sexual violence towards students by providing a clearly communicated reporting and support system.
- Develop protocols for providing reasonable academic accommodations and protocols for providing reasonable student support accommodations.
- Utilize UNBC’s “Student Conduct Statement of Principles” procedures to investigate disclosures and where a student’s behaviour is deemed to have breached the policies of student standards of conduct. Recommendations of any appropriate penalty must follow the procedures outlined in the “Student Conduct Statement of Principles.”
- The steering committee ensures revisions to the current UNBC “Student Statement on Conduct Principles” policy, and to ensure the current policy will refer out to a new stand-alone policy on sexual violence.
- The steering committee ensures that UNBC adapts the Ministry’s Sexual Violence Guidelines for the UNBC context, and develops a stand-alone Sexual Violence policy.
- Develop and deliver a plan to educate and train UNBC employees on how to provide initial supports for students who make a confidential disclosure, and what actions need to be taken by UNBC employees when the report is provided confidentially.
- Develop and deliver a plan to educate and train both UNBC students and employees on how to formally report disclosures of sexual violence, or how to support a student in seeking to formally report disclosures of sexual violence.
- UNBC should investigate software that can allow for multiple units to notify a single office when a report of a disclosure has been received, and to track the stages of support and investigations. A report should be produced outlining the benefits and costs of such software, and recommending UNBC’s next steps.
- That all UNBC employees who have some responsibility for supporting students who disclose incidents of sexual violence receive and be trained in utilizing communication protocols for responding to all reports.
- UNBC develop a coordinated, student-centred education risk reduction and prevention program that focuses on empowerment, not fear, and healthy interpersonal relationships for prospective student victims and perpetrators. Such programming must be research-based, and be accessible to students on all of our campuses. As an institution of higher learning, the development of a “re-education for perpetrators is also critical to a holistic education program.