Board of Governors approves new sexualized violence policy

The Board of Governors has approved a new policy on the prevention, education and response to sexualized violence for the University of Victoria, marking the next step toward the policy’s adoption and implementation in May.

President Jamie Cassels initiated the review last spring to address sexualized violence more directly and effectively as part of UVic’s commitment to building a respectful, inclusive and supportive environment in which to learn, work and live.

“The creation of this single, encompassing policy to prevent and respond to sexualized violence on campus is an extremely important initiative for the University of Victoria,” says Cassels. “We want to be very clear that sexualized violence is unacceptable on our campus and our goal is to create and foster a safe, supportive and respectful environment for all of our students, faculty and staff.

“We all have a responsibility to take action in preventing sexualized violence,” says Cassels. “I am encouraged by this collective effort and I want to acknowledge the leadership of Annalee Lepp and Cassbreea Dewis, and the engagement of our campus community in developing the policy.”

A committee of 21 diverse community members, The Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development, has spent the last year conducting extensive consultations and research to develop the policy that applies to all faculty, librarians, staff and students as well as visitors, volunteers and others with a direct connection to UVic.

“Over the last 11 months, the Working Group spent countless hours working to develop the policy and I commend them for their strong convictions, dedication and efforts,” says Annalee Lepp, chair of the Working Group on Sexualized Violence Programs and Policy Development. “During the two consultation phases, members of the university community shared invaluable insights and provided excellent feedback. In my estimation, the resultant policy provides a strong foundation for the work that is yet to come as the policy is implemented.”

While UVic previously had policies and programs related to sexualized violence, the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy provides improved and more transparent information, supports and processes. The policy covers prevention and training programs; resources and support for survivors and those impacted by sexualized violence; and responses to disclosures and reports of sexualized violence, including a fair and impartial investigation and adjudication process.

Procedures that explain in detail how the university will put the policy into practice are are available for comment by the campus community until April 26 before being approved.

A key component of the policy is a central office that anyone on campus can contact for information and assistance, or to report an incidence of sexualized violence. The office will be housed with other services that support equity, inclusion and diversity.

The university has already acted on the group’s interim report delivered last September and is creating a position to coordinate education and training across campus.

After the procedures are completed and approved by the president, the policy and procedures will be implemented in keeping with the BC government’s requirement under its Sexual Violence and Misconduct Act that all post-secondary institutions have a stand-alone policy for students by May 19, 2017.

UVic’s work in this area began before the provincial legislation required a policy and was in response to increased attention about sexualized violence on campuses across Canada including at UVic. In addition to the policy covering students, as mandated by the government, UVic’s policy is more comprehensive and applies to employees, faculty members, anyone holding a university appointment, post-doctoral fellows, grant-funded employees, anyone contractually required to abide by university policies, volunteers, visitors, members of the Board of Governors and Senate, anyone residing on campus, and anyone who is directly connected to a university initiative.

Download the policy (pdf) or visit the website for more information.

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Keywords: inclusion, sex, violence, policy, harassment, safety, student life, administrative

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