University will review sexual violence policy feedback this month

AMS vice-president says either policy or procedure will be changed

The University has begun reviewing feedback about the sexual violence policy.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo
The University will begin to review the community’s feedback on the controversial sexual violence policy this month. 
 
The controversy surrounds Section 8.8, which mandates that Queen’s employees, with the exception of health care providers, must report any student who discloses experiencing sexual violence to the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, Barb Lotan.
 
This duty to disclose came under fire from students and faculty alike throughout the fall, and was suspended on Oct. 10.
 
The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force had their first review meeting of the policy on Jan. 14. “The principal made the right decision in the fall on Section 8.8,” AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Will Greene said in an interview with The Journal. 
 
Since October, the University has undergone a review process that included open community meetings and an email asking for feedback about the policy.
 
Greene has been present for discussions surrounding the policy that have taken place this semester. “It’s been a very productive dialogue,” he said.
 
According to Greene, the Jan. 14 meeting was to get a synopsis of the community’s feedback, a review of disclosure policies across the province, and talk about the main issues.
 
The task force is chaired by Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of Student Affairs, and Stephanie Simpson, associate vice-principal (Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion). 
 
Greene said he’s not entirely sure what the final policy will look like, but says there will be a change. “Whether it’s the policy or the procedure around how it’s done, it’s going to change,” he said. “It’s clear the community is not happy with the current iteration of either the policy or the procedure that goes on with the email and the name. It’s not going to remain as it is now.”
 
Greene recognized that there’s an argument for the importance of a duty to disclose. “Many of the faculty may not have the proper training to deal with disclosures. And it doesn’t give the University an idea of potential areas of concern in terms of faculty or community members who are causing these offences.”
 
The online submission form received 248 responses. Greene acknowledged there’s work to be done to improve student engagement, especially on the topic of sexual violence. 
 
“Our consultative process needs to be more robust from the University side,” Greene said. “I think students may not have been aware that there was an online submission version. A lot of students were aware of the public forums, and the public forums are very good. However, that online submission was important for students who either didn’t want to have those conversations in public, or couldn’t make it out.”
 
According to Greene, the task force is reviewing sexual violence and duty to disclose policies of approximately 10 other Ontario universities. 
 
“Many of [the Ontario schools] have an obligatory duty to disclose process, with different procedures for how it’s done.”
 
Greene told The Journal the task force has been consulting with various faculty society presidents and the SGPS. They also plan to consult with the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston.
 
“This policy is one element, but I think there’s a lot of room for growth in terms of looking at how we’re training our employees and how we’re educating our students about consent,” Greene said.
 
“What are we doing to get at the problem underlying sexual violence?” Greene asked. “The policy and the procedure is one thing, but we need to actually do something about the problem.”
 

Corrections

The kicker has been updated to specify the nature of the potential policy updates after feedback.

The Journal regrets the error.

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