Release of interim sexual assault policy imminent

Working group to establish temporary policy developed with experts

Principal Daniel Woolf asked the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group to expedite recommendations after the Toronto Star ran an investigation on sexual assault at Canadian universities that focused on Queen's.
Principal Daniel Woolf asked the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group to expedite recommendations after the Toronto Star ran an investigation on sexual assault at Canadian universities that focused on Queen's.

Queen’s new interim protocol for sexual assault will be publicly released “any day now”, according to Arig al Shaibah, chair of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group.

According to al Shaibah, the protocol will clearly define sexual assault and consent, and provide a list of resources available to survivors for dealing with their assault. The protocol will also include information about actions the University could take toward “alleged assailants” on campus.

“We have many really good resources available for survivors of sexual assault, so in this document it is an opportunity to consolidate services and resources,” she said.

The interim protocol has been under the supervision of a sub-committee of experienced policymakers and lawyers.

The sub-committee was established in early December, following public criticism of the University’s sexual assault policy. The working group asked Principal Daniel Woolf to expedite the creation of a sub-committee of experts that would create interim policy.

“There certainly was a sense of urgency to get an interim protocol out there, because clearly there was some confusion about what was available on campus and where people could go,” al Shaibah said.

The working group has been discussing more comprehensive policy recommendations that will address prevention, education and support. Its official recommendations are scheduled to be released in April.

The group has also been planning a series of consultations that will include consultation with faculty, staff and other community members, on-campus as well as off-campus.

“There will be lots of opportunities for student groups and constituents to be providing some input,” al Shaibah said.

The group has been working on recommendations since the beginning of September, but Emily Wong, the AMS Social Issues commissioner, said public attention has been significant in accelerating the process.

“It’s nice that the conversation happened because it’s obviously good to see things move along a bit faster,” said Wong, ArtSci ’15.

Wong is the AMS representative to the working group and will bring any AMS recommendations for the official policy.

According to Wong, the main issue being discussed isn’t lack of resources, but rather the lack of a centralized body or organization that links all available resources together.

“Just advertising ‘this is what’s available’ is not necessarily the solution, because there is so much available,” she said.

“It’s got to be something a little more centralized.”

AMS Assembly has also recognized the lack of structure as a primary issue. At the final meeting prior to winter break, on Nov. 27, Assembly discussed potential additions to AMS policy regarding sexual assault.

“We are looking at what’s available — our resources, and making sure an appropriate group is dealing with [it],” AMS President Allison Williams told Assembly.

Williams, ArtSci ’14, reiterated her concern that there needs to be more research done before the AMS can make an official recommendation on policy change to the administration.

ASUS Representative Tamarra Wallace said it’s important for the AMS to take further action on the issue. Wallace drafted a report for Assembly outlining the current shortcomings of the sexual harassment policy for the basis of the Assembly discussion.

The report referenced earlier Journal articles, as well as an investigation into sexual assault at Canadian universities by the Toronto Star, in criticizing the ambiguity of the informal and formal processes of reporting a “sexual harassment” complaint according to current University policy.

Assembly discussed educational campaigns as potential actions they could take in response. Policy recommendations, like better advertisement of resources and providing a clearer definition of sexual assault, were also discussed.

“I would like to see AMS take a stance, either in policy or a campaign,” Wallace told Assembly.

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