Queen’s sees 210 percent increase in university based sexual violence support for Queen’s community members

Improper Acts Reporting policy replaces Safe Disclosure Policy

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
AMS says policy change is a step in the right direction.

This article discusses sexual violence and may be triggering for some readers. The Journal uses “survivor” to refer to those who have experienced sexual assault. We acknowledge this term is not universal. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424.

This article was updated with new information on May 31, 2022 at 1:30 p.m

Queen’s University has seen a 210 percent increase in the number of community members accessing Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Services (SVPRS), according to an April 13 Board of Trustee Report.

The Board approved the Improper Acts Policy (IRP) to provide another avenue for survivors and witnesses of sexual violence to report “Improper Acts,” according to the University. The passage of this policy does not replace the Policy on Sexual Violence involving Queen’s University Students

Between May 1, 2021, and April 30, 2022, the University reported 221 individuals contacted the SVPRS office. 187 individuals identified as students. 

Of the 187 students, 45 students sought accommodations through the SVPRS office, which included academic considerations and alternative housing assignments, where appropriate. 

During the 2021-22 reporting period, 28 complaints of sexual violence, involving 44 occurrences of a violation, were reported through the appropriate channels, including the non-academic misconduct system.  

Along with the release of the SVPR statistics, the Board of Trustees approved the Improper Acts Reporting policy at their meeting on May 13. This policy replaces the Safe Disclosure Policy (SDP), passed in 2011.

The IRP centralizes “good-faith reporting” by members of the University and encompasses a wide variety of “improper acts.”

Improper acts include all illegal acts, acts blocking someone from reporting an improper act, and acts that “[create] a danger to the life, health, or safety of persons or to the environment.” The IRP includes reporting acts of sexual violence.

Under the IRP, a report of sexual violence would be referred to the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator and investigated under the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students.

For complaints involving employees and no students, a different set of policies guides the process.

The Board of Trustees report said the IRP was passed “to allow for a contextual approach to investigation [of improper acts].” The report expects most acts reported under the IRP will be directed to other units of investigation.

“The new policy provides a simple way for anyone in the Queen’s community to safely report in good faith any incident of concern into a centralized intake office where the matter is then reviewed and redirected to the appropriate body within the university and pursued under the appropriate policy,” the University said in a statement to The Journal.

The University does not foresee needing additional resources to implement the IRP.

Unlike the SDP, the IRP does not include timelines for the procedures outlined in the policy. It also does not designate disciplinary action to any specific roles.

The IRP does not include the role of the “Safe Discloser Officer,” who, under the SDP, was the only individual who had contact with the reporter of an improper act. The IRP does not mention who is tasked with contacting the complainant.

Anonymous reports can be made under the IRP, but the policy states “it may not be possible to refer, investigate, or respond to anonymous reports owing to the requirements of procedural fairness.”

Under the SDP, all reported improper acts were considered for investigation regardless of whether the reporter was anonymous or named.

The IRP doesn’t apply to past members of the University community. The IRP doesn’t investigate alleged improper acts that occurred while the accused was not a member of the Queen’s community or if the act does not relate to Queen’s.

At the student level, the AMS expressed the importance of the policy.

“We believe that the implementation of the Improper Acts Reporting Policy is a step in the right direction when it comes to addressing sexual violence on campus,” the AMS said in a statement to The Journal.

The AMS added the implementation of the policy reopens dialogue on sexual violence prevention and necessary advocacy initiatives.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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