Queen’s releases interim sexual assault protocol

New policy consolidates resources and information for survivors

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.

The University has released an interim protocol to address sexual assault on campus until the end of the academic year, when a permanent model is expected to be unveiled.

The protocol, released on Jan. 16, was developed by a subcommittee of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group (SAPRWG).

The permanent policy will be released by April 30. Arig al Shaibah, chair of SAPRWG, said the protocol is intended to act as a document that consolidates information that survivors of sexual assault might need to know. This includes where to go if an assault takes place and what the process of reporting an assault might look like.

The interim protocol defines sexual assault and consent, and applies to assaults that are alleged to have occurred on or off University property or at a University event, and to students, visitors, volunteers and employees of the University.

It also ensures confidentiality for those reporting or involved in sexual assaults — unless there’s the threat of harm to an individual, the University or the broader community, or if reporting the assault is required by law — and provides options for reporting assault, both criminal and non-criminal, and information about various resources that survivors of sexual assault can use.

Also documented are the various responses the University might have to non-criminal complaints, including "no contact" undertakings with the alleged assailant, on- or off-campus safety planning, class scheduling, academic and/or workplace accommodations. Campus Security and emergency services may impose measures to restrict access to some University facilities for the alleged assailant.

In residences, the Director of Residence Life might provide the survivor and/or the assailant with alternative housing assignments during an investigation. Additionally, if the survivor or assailant are employees of the University, the alleged assailant may be moved to a different department or be placed on administrative leave or a leave of absence until the complaint has been resolved.

al Shaibah said the working group recommended to Principal Daniel Woolf that a subcommittee be established with experts in regards to policy production.

The subcommittee was established in early December to develop the interim protocol. The SAPRWG and the policy subcommittee will collaborate to formulate the sexual assault policy starting this month, she added.

The subcommittee will work on policy recommendations and the SAPRWG will begin consultations on campus and within the wider community to assist in developing the policy recommendations.

al Shaibah said the consultation process is crucial to the development of the permanent sexual assault policy.

"Before the holidays, we talked about spending the bulk of February and March with some sort of a consultation plan, whether that's public meetings, an anonymous email address created or some targeted focus groups," she said.

al Shaibah said they don’t yet know what the sexual assault policy will look like, but she hopes that it follows in the same footsteps as the new protocol.

"We're really pleased with the protocol that we currently have,” she said.

“It touches on a lot of points, so I'm just hoping that we continue in that vein and whatever we produce at the end of the day is something that the community finds helpful and suits our needs."

Rector Mike Young told the Journal via email that he thinks the protocol is a good starting point and is necessary until a proper, comprehensive policy is produced.

"I feel this protocol does serve its purpose and will serve as a foundation that still needs to be expanded in different areas," Young said.

Young also said that while he doesn't think the University has done enough to address issues of sexual assault, the student voice has been incredibly strong and the University is listening.

"The consultation with student leaders throughout this process has been encouraging and it is incumbent on students to demand this remains the case,” he said.

 — With files from Chloe Sobel

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