Sexualized violence review delivers interim report

​Campus entrance. Photo credit: UVic Photo Services
The University of Victoria group reviewing sexualized violence policy, programs and education at the university delivered its interim report today, noting the complexities of addressing sexualized violence for a diverse campus community.

The report by the Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development emphasizes the importance of a survivor-centric approach and the need for consistent, easily accessible information. Among its preliminary recommendations is to hire a coordinator to oversee campus-wide education and prevention programs that are adaptable for different groups.

“I’m pleased to see the significant progress the working group has made and the broad and in-depth consultations that will help UVic develop a clear campus-wide policy and procedures, and cultivate an environment where it is clearly understood that sexualized violence is unacceptable,” says President Jamie Cassels.

Cassels initiated the review in April to develop a separate UVic policy on sexualized violence and make recommendations on related programs and education. He invited 21 diverse campus members, including students, to comprise the group. It is now midway through extensive consultations and research.

“Our work is committed to the principles of being survivor-centred, solutions-focused as well as transparent and accountable,” says Annalee Lepp, chair of the working group and chair of UVic’s Department of Gender Studies. “We also want to seek out and value a diversity of perspectives.”

To date, more than 80 in-person consultations have been held or are scheduled with campus and community groups, with another 24 to be confirmed. Also, 14 written submissions have been received. At the same time, the working group has researched existing UVic policies, educational and prevention programs, supports and resources available to survivors, the investigation and adjudication process, as well as policies on sexualized violence at other universities.

Valerie Kuehne, vice-president academic and project lead, says she welcomes the preliminary recommendation to hire an education, prevention and response coordinator. “We need to provide clear, consistent information about UVic’s values and expectations to help prevent incidents of sexualized violence.  We also need to provide clear information about support options and responses to sexualized violence.”

“The UVic Students’ Society is impressed with the scope of consultation that the sexualized violence policy working group has undertaken so far,” said UVSS Director of Student Affairs Emma Kinakin. “It’s so important that UVic gets this right and creates a policy that is survivor-centric, gives us an accurate picture of incidences of sexualized violence on campus, and sets the standard for post-secondary institutions in BC.”

At this stage, the working group has devoted considerable attention to how to best educate people in a comprehensive way about sexualized violence, given the diversity among campus members, including first-time students, longtime faculty members, graduate and international students, among others. Several programs and resources exist, especially for undergraduate students, but some campus groups have none.

“The efforts to address sexualized violence need to understand that each person’s experience will be affected by many factors, including their gender identity and expression, sexual identity, Indigenous, racial, or ethnic background, language barriers, abilities, faith and socio-economic status as well as the person’s position within university structures and hierarchies,” says Lepp. “Also, sexualized violence doesn’t exist in a vacuum and is linked to systemic inequalities and forms of discrimination such as colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.”

The report recommends UVic hire a coordinator who can develop and oversee a three-phase approach to education and prevention that would begin before students or employees arrive on campus. On-campus orientation programs and continuing education throughout the year would follow the pre-arrival phase.

The working group will next focus on how UVic can provide meaningful and clearly designated supports to those who have experienced sexualized violence, and procedures for the clear, impartial adjudication of complaints including confidentiality provisions and interim measures.

Consultation participants across the university have said more information is needed about what to do if someone discloses an incident of sexualized violence to them.

Lepp says the consultations and research show that having survivor-centred, trauma-informed training is critical so that the situation is handled in a manner that is appropriate, empathetic, consistent and supportive starting with the initial disclosure.

The interim report includes detailed comparisons of sexualized violence policies at nine Canadian and American post-secondary institutions; meeting summaries from the working group and its subcommittees; a list of consultations held May to September plus planned consultations to December; and preliminary recommendations on support for those who have experienced sexualized violence, and what is needed in a fair and accessible adjudication process.

The working group will continue research and consultations in the fall, with a draft policy to be ready in January 2017 for another round of consultation. Final approvals of the policy are expected by May 2017.

More information about the review to date, including a list of consultations and how to provide input to the working group is available at

View the interim report.

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In this story

Keywords: sexualized violence, uvss, student life, administrative

People: Annalee Lepp, Valerie Kuehne, Jamie Cassels

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