New sexual assault policy drafted

Sexual assault working group releases report with recommendations for prevention

Queen’s is one step closer to implementing an official sexual assault policy on campus.

On June 1, the Queen’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group (SAPRWG) publicly released a draft of its policy. The policy, along with an official report of recommendations, will be brought to Senate for the University to implement.

The release of the documents comes a semester after the group had submitted an interim sexual assault policy, and almost half a year since the lack of a sexual assault policy on campus was addressed in the media (including The Journal and The Toronto Star).

“I would definitely say the media helped expedite the process,” Emily Wong, former AMS Social Issues Commissioner and former student representative on SAPRWG, said.

According to the SAPRWG’s press release, the new draft of the sexual assault policy has been built off of the interim policy, which included a definition of sexual assault and consent, as well as a list of resources available to victims.

The new draft of the policy has a list of definitions including harassment and misconduct, along with other key words. It also includes the various ways a victim can report an incident and the steps the University will take in response to a reported misconduct.

On their website, SAPRWG states that they plan to present the policy before Senate during the summer and that it will likely be approved prior to the beginning of the fall semester. Along with the proposed policy draft, the group compiled a report on the issues surrounding sexual assault on campus.

The report includes 11 recommendations to the University for sexual assault prevention and response. One of the recommendations included the establishment of a sexual assault resource centre, which Wong said would ideally encompass both professional support and peer education.

“This is something that should be for all students across all years. The exposure that they’re going to get about sexual assault prevention education, that’s a huge part of the prevention piece,” Wong, ArtSci ’15, said.

The prevention process will include the implementation of education sessions, which will likely begin in frosh week, according to Wong. She added that the group discussed implementing a bystander curriculum to Orientation Roundtable (ORT) this summer to incorporate education into Orientation Week this coming fall.

Wong said one of the biggest problems for the group was avoiding overlap
with criminal justice system, where the University has no jurisdiction, but still dealing with alleged perpetrators.

“We were never really talking about discipline … it was more of the process and in terms of consequences — they’re very similar to what students could face for academic dishonesty or any other criminal offence,” Wong said.

Other recommendations include streamlining academic
accommodations for victims, clarifying the support roles of resources and university bodies, first-responder training, peer-involved prevention education and a comprehensive university sexual assault policy.

Wong said she was extremely impressed with how the group worked together to develop these recommendations and the importance they placed on student feedback.

“I really hope that the [SAPRWG] will continue to incorporate student feedback as well as it has up to this point because that’s not always the case with university committees sometimes.”

The report expressed satisfaction with the amount of input they’ve received from the Queen’s community.

“In particular, the students on campus have been the most active leaders on this subject and their voices have been critically important to the development of the final report,” the report states.

Wong, who’s graduating this summer, said the responsibility is still on students to bring these issues to light, especially while the University is listening.

“It’s also really important that students like Tess Klaver and other people are coming forward with their stories because if students don’t come forward, we don’t know that there’s an issue,” Wong said, referring to the former Queen’s student who shared her story with The Toronto Star.

“And if we don’t know that there’s a real pressing issue, then reports don’t get written, policy doesn’t get written and support services don’t have adequate resources channelled to them.”

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.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.