Standing committee shares ideas with other institutions in Montreal.
Concordia is working to implement the requirements of Bill 151 by the deadline of Jan. 1, 2019. Bill 151 is the Act to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions. The university’s Standing Committee on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence is mandated to implement the obligations of that bill and the June 2018 recommendations of Concordia’s Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence report.
The committee has been working on the requirements of Bill 151 since September, according to Lisa Ostiguy, the chair of the committee and special advisor to the provost on campus life.
“After we complete the changes needed for Bill 151, there is all kinds of work we will be doing on the task force recommendations,” said Ostiguy.
Bill 151 states that post-secondary institutions must adopt a policy to prevent and fight sexual violence before Sept. 1, 2019. A first copy must be submitted by Jan. 1, 2019.
The policy the university is responsible for implementing must also include a code of conduct and guidelines on faculty-student relationships. Concordia released these guidelines last January.
Concordia’s current policy on sexual violence and sexual misconduct is currently under effect until the new one takes over. Ostiguy said the difference between the current policy and the one being developed is that the latter will be more survivor-focused. The new policy will give “a much bigger context around the importance of sexual violence,” said Ostiguy. “Anytime we open up our policy to add anything, it’s a good opportunity to take a big look at it and that’s what we’ve been doing,” she added.
The standing committee is made up of 25 members. Ostiguy said any member representing a union or an association was nominated by their respective association.
One of the bill’s requirements is gathering all sexual violence-related services and resources in one area of the university, such as the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) in Concordia’s case.
Training and education are also significant parts of the implementation of the bill and the task force’s recommendations. Thus, Concordia has already created a subcommittee for education and training for faculty and students, chaired by SARC Coordinator, Jennifer Drummond.
Until today, the subcommittee will only have met twice. Ostiguy told The Concordian she couldn’t comment on what the subcommittee is currently working on with regards to training. However, she said SARC is developing an online version of the training.
Last week, Concordia’s standing committee had a meeting with universities and CEGEPs in the greater Montreal area to discuss their progress in implementing Bill 151. McGill, Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke were all present.
“Concordia had a lot of things in place for Bill 151 so I think we actually may have been more informative to others than others [were] to us,” said Ostiguy. “What was the most exciting was talking about how we are going to work together, share our resources, develop training together.”
The standing committee is meeting with other higher education institutions in May as well to discuss their progress.
Students can always give feedback to Concordia’s standing committee at their monthly public consultation. The next consultation will be held on Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. in GM-200 on the downtown campus, and on Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. in room AD-230 on the Loyola campus.
Graphic by Ana Bilokin.