Letter to the editors: March 13

Dear Editors,

In 1989, a group of concerned women staged a Sit-In in then Principal David Smith’s office to call attention to the issue of sexual violence on the Queen’s University campus. A key demand was the funding of the Sexual Assault Centre of Kingston (SACK). The previous year, in 1988, the University withdrew funding and closed the only sexual violence support centre on campus.  

More than 30 years later, students, faculty, staff and other members of the Queen’s community still have no comprehensive on-campus sexual violence support centre to meet their needs. This despite a 2016 report by the Queen’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group (SAPRWG) recommending that the University “establish [..] a central, visible, and welcoming ―Sexual Assault Response and Prevention‖ (SARP) Centre, which would function as: a single point of entry for integrated and holistic sexual assault response, support, advising, counselling, advocacy, and case management services; and a driving force for campus-wide sexual violence prevention education and first-response training.”

While we applaud the appointment of the Queen’s University Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, the position is only available Monday to Friday from 9 – 5 and is confined to offering information and referral services to those experiencing sexual violence.  This is inadequate to meet the needs of survivors of sexual violence, which happen beyond regular work hours.  

Queen’s has also failed to increase funding for the Sexual Assault Centre of Kingston (SACK) since we demanded its instatement in 1989.  SACK still receives only $1 in funding through student activity fees ($1.25 from graduate student fees). This amounted to approximately $44,000 in 2018/2019. According to SACK, funding for the service actually dropped by 22% in the 2019/2020 academic year due to SACK being made one of nine fees moved from mandatory to optional for student activity fee funding. SACK remains the only comprehensive sexual violence support centre with 24/7 access to counsellors for the Queen’s community; and yet Queen’s as an institution is doing little to support this work and the needs of sexual violence survivors. 

As a group of concerned Queen’s alumni, we call on Queen’s University to expand the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator Office to be accessible to the Queen’s community 24/7. We also call on the University to fund one full-time sexual violence counsellor to be housed in an office on campus. 

 We look forward to Queen’s taking a leadership role in preventing and responding to sexual violence on campus.

Sincerely,

A Group of Concerned Queen’s Alumni 

Penelope Hutchison, Arts’90

Pam Cross, Law ‘93

Kelly Jordan, Arts ‘90

Andrea Calver, Arts ‘91

Kim Armstrong, Arts ‘90

Julie Glaser, Arts ‘91

Patricia Rosseel, Arts ‘90

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