Promising more action in the fall, sexual violence task force has slow start

The group has met twice since release of sexual violence data in March

Task force will meet in full in September.
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Since data from the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey was released nearly four months ago, the response from the Queen’s sexual violence task force has been slow. 
 
Following the release of the survey results in March, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) announced post-secondary institutions would be required to develop task forces “devoted to tackling sexual violence on campus.”
 
Under direction from former Principal Daniel Woolf, Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs, was tapped to lead the transition of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Working Group (SVPRWG), into the task force. 
 
Barb Lotan, Queen’s sexual violence prevention and response coordinator, was also tasked with helping the transition.
 
In an email sent to The Journal in March, Tierney said the working group would take on the responsibilities outlined for the task force by the Ministry, as well as continuing its prior work.
 
The transition, she said, would “take effect right away,” yet the group has only met twice since the province’s announcement in March.
 
In an interview with The Journal, Lotan and Tierney said because some student members can’t attend summer meetings, the task force won’t meet in full until the fall, though there is “ongoing communication through group email.”
 
While Lotan and Tierney said they’ve received no further direction from the Ford government concerning the task force, they anticipate a “seamless transition” of the working group members.
 
They emphasized the diverse membership of the working group, which includes faculty, staff, a representative from the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, the AMS Social Issues Commissioner, and representatives from the Sexual Health Resource Centre and SGPS.   
 
In April, the group outlined their summer agenda, which includes planning for fall programming.
 
Lotan and Tierney said plans for the upcoming school year include hosting a speaker on sexual violence and consent during Orientation Week and reviewing data from the National Collegiate Health Assessment (NCHA).
 
While not specifically focused on sexual violence, Lotan called results from the NCHA “really current,” and despite not being as detailed as results from the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey, the group plans to draw on them in an attempt to “fill in blanks” left by those results.
 
Lotan and Tierney said they see the task force’s main objectives as providing a forum to discuss issues on campus, designing and implementing useful practices and programs, and facilitating communication with campus partners.
 
They stressed the group tries to update the Queen’s community relatively regularly either online or on campus through various channels and as programs come up, but Tierney admitted “the communication piece is a challenge.”
 
Some of the channels the group uses to communicate to students include the AMS, SGPS, the task force’s website, and their Facebook page. 
 
Tierney said there’s a diversity of resources students can use to gather information about sexual violence at Queen’s, with Lotan adding the group is “trying to leverage everything [they] can in a way that’s useful and doesn’t take away from [their] primary work.” 
 
While Lotan said the group “welcomes any and all involvement, participation, and feedback,” meetings are not open to the Queen’s community due to scheduling difficulties and the challenge of finding a room.
 
To place an item on the agenda, though, students can let Tierney or Lotan know about their ideas or concerns.
 
They also said they’re looking at work being done to combat sexual violence at other universities and provinces, as Lotan and Tierney believe many issues are not Queen’s-specific but sector-wide.
 
They said the results of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey have been a topic of discussion at the group meetings, but added the timing of those results was close to exam times and included “summary data but not breakdown data.” 
 
Ultimately, Lotan doesn’t “anticipate the group changing much,” as she said the working group is “already doing what the government wants [them] to do.” 
 
“We already knew there were issues, which is why we’ve been doing the work we’ve been doing, even without [the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey] telling us we needed to do that,” Tierney added.
 

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