Queen’s sexual violence policy under review

‘Sexual violence is something that affects us all’

A report highlighting changes to the policy will be prepared by Feb. 2023.

Queen’s is in the process of revising its policy on sexual violence, with a focus on formal reporting processes and procedures.

According to a press release, the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students was due for a routine review in 2023. The University anticipates the current review will be completed before the 2023–24 academic year.

Leading the charge are co-chairs of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force (SVPRTF) Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs, and Stephanie Simpson, associate vice-provost (human rights, equity, and inclusion).

The SVPRTF is composed of students, staff, faculty, and community members.

A  SVPRTF survey showed 58 per cent of students believe sexual violence is a problem at Queen’s. Seven per cent of respondents don’t see sexual violence as a problem, including 14 per cent of male-identified respondents.

Six per cent of respondents to the survey who were students said they had been the victim of sexual violence since the start of the term.

Tierney and Simpson provided a combined statement to The Journal regarding their efforts to ensure the policy’s procedures are “clear and fair to complainants and respondents.”

The statement detailed Queen's goals of fostering a pleasant environment for studying, living, and working where sexual violence is not tolerated.

“We work in partnership with students and community organizations to help prevent sexual violence through education, awareness, policy, fostering a culture of consent, community building, and safety programs,” Tierney and Simpson said.

“We also provide comprehensive and coordinated supports to students impacted by sexual violence.”

The SVPRTF collaborates with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR)—a charitable, non-partisan organization with academic and professional expertise in legal responses to sexualized violence—to assist with the policy review.  

“The CCLISAR has worked with several Canadian universities, and their work will help us ensure our policy and related procedures align with evolving best practices,” they explained. 

Beyond clarity and fairness to all parties, best practices would see the university’s policy incorporate a trauma-informed response to addressing sexual violence. 

“A key part of the review will be stakeholder consultations, which will take place this fall,” they added. 

Since the SVPRTF has been providing input to the policy development and supports for students, such as skills training, awareness, and educational resources, related to sexual violence prevention and response, SVPRTF members will play a significant role in the policy review.

“A report and recommendations for any changes to the policy will be prepared for February 2023,” Tierney and Simpson said.

“Suggested policy revisions will then go through the university’s policy consultation and approval process with final review and approval made by the Board of Trustees. This process also includes an opportunity for consultation and input from students, staff, and faculty.”

More information on the policy and review can be found online.

“We encourage as many students as possible to participate in this process, as sexual violence is something that affects us all,” Tierney and Simpson said. 

The policy and its procedures are open to written feedback from students, staff, faculty, and other members of the community. Confidential emails can also be sent directly to irp@cclisar.ca

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