Concordia needs sexual violence policy

Photo by Andrej Ivanov

Shepard says recommendations will be implemented over this year

Concordia University is pledging to follow all of the recommendations from an internal study reviewing the school’s sexual assault policies and protocols.

Concordia Sexual Assault Resource Center will be getting additional funding. Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

The review by the university’s Sexual Assault Policy Review Working Group calls for creating an all-encompassing policy on sexual violence instead of sexual assault or sexual harassment  “because it refers to a broader range of actions, beliefs and attitudes,” according to the report.

Concordia president Alan Shepard said he hopes to get all of the recommendations implemented by the end of the 2015-2016 academic year.

“Some of the things we can do right away we’ve already done,” he said, including consolidating all information about sexual violence policies and support into one place online. “You don’t want to make a lot of red tape to figure out how you get the support. You don’t want to wander around the site for three hours looking for it. You want to make it plain. We re-did the website so it is more straightforward.”

The report also calls for training on rape culture and sexual violence. Chair of the working group and deputy provost Lisa Ostiguy said there will be mandatory training for resident assistant staff and orientation staff. However, the university has no plans to make it mandatory across the board.

“We can reach more people by actually not making it mandatory by making sure that it’s integrated in everything that we do as opposed to saying ‘this one group all has to be part of it,’ so we’re mostly trying to roll out a campaign where it reaches our whole community rather than stamping a particular group to say ‘you have to be involved,'” said Ostiguy.

Shepard also said Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) will be getting more funding. SARC coordinator Jennifer Drummond said she doesn’t yet know what kind of funding the centre will get, “but this report outlines significant work for the Sexual Assault Resource Centre to do with the dean of students.”

“It would be helpful to have someone dedicated to trainings,” Drummond added. “The other main area [funding could be used] would be for space. It’s a small office [right now.]”

She said she thinks the report is a great improvement in the university’s policy, especially the inclusion of a definition of consent and using gender-neutral language.

“I think there was a lot of room for improvement, which we see in the recommendations,” Drummond said. “I’m really impressed and excited.”

When asked about training not being mandatory, Drummond said, “I think it still needs to be considered,” but that the “ultimate goal is to have people engaged.”

“I think it’s important across the board,” she said. “All students and staff should get training in this.”

CSU VP academic and advocacy Marion Miller said she thinks the university did a very thorough job. “I’m glad to see that they consulted with many students and they consulted with different players within the university,” she said. “I think they took the process seriously.”

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