Queen’s approves revisions to sexual violence policy

At Board of Trustees meeting, AMS President calls for mandatory training, consent modules

The revisions were first shared July 21.
Journal File Photo

The Board of Trustees approved the amendments to the Policy on Sexual Violence at a meeting on Friday. 

“We had a special meeting of the Audit and Risk Committee on Nov. 12 to address some of the proposed changes to the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s Students,” David Allgood, chair of the Audit and Risk Committee, told the Board. 

Revisions to the policy focused on the confidentiality of disclosures, the disclosure process, and staff training requirements.

READ MOREFollowing delay, University shares proposed revisions to sexual violence policy

“The work on these amendments began in December of 2019 when concerns were identified that the confidentiality aspects of the disclosure notifications of the policy were either confusing or unacceptable,” Allgood said. 

“The task force looking at this [policy] recommended changes, which included a strong statement on the importance of confidentiality, but also outlined the limits of confidentiality so that students would be aware.” 

The updated policy states information will be shared in cases that pose a safety risk to the community, where employees are obliged by law to share the information, or where the incident occurred in a university residence.

“It also included an amnesty statement, which formalized the existing University policy that a student who experiences sexual violence is not subject to discipline for related drug or alcohol violations,” Allgood said.

These revisions were approved by Queen’s senior leadership and shared with the community by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force on July 21.

During his report to the Board, prior to the policy’s approval, AMS President Jared den Otter addressed how the updated policy has been received by undergraduate students.

“The AMS sits on the Sexual Violence Task Force and conducted an independent consultation for the sexual violence policy,” den Otter told the board. “We compiled substantial feedback, both anonymously and from student advocacy groups, and the responses confirmed that survivors of gender-based and sexual violence are receiving inadequate support from their institution.”

“While we do endorse the sexual violence policy and support its movement forward, we have been very vocal in our opinion that without mandatory disclosure training for Queen’s faculty and staff, the policy remains ineffective at improving our preparedness to respond to disclosures of sexual violence.” 

READ MORE: ‘Risks of gender-based violence are higher in university-aged populations’

Den Otter called for the University to implement mandatory training for faculty and staff and mandate consent modules for all incoming students. 

The policy currently states training is strongly encouraged, however the task force that proposed the amendments has recommended it be made mandatory for faculty and staff as soon as possible.

“Admittedly, the AMS shares this responsibility and we’re prepared to assist in this work to ensure students can easily access survivor-centered and trauma-informed supports and create a campus culture of consent and bystander awareness,” he said.

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