The actions taken by the Women’s Centre, the UVSS, and students has resulted in a renewed attention to the issues of sexual assault on campus. The media became involved and shared the message that post-secondary institutions need policy reform. The Provincial Green Party member Andrew Weaver tabled a bill (read more here) to that aims to address the pervasive occurrence of sexualized violence plaguing universities and colleges in British Columbia. This bill has since been supported by the Premier as well, and it is only a matter of time before it becomes law.
The recent press and government support has caused the University of Victoria to respond. Now, although the message from UVic’s President Jamie Cassels appears to be a promise to work on these issues, it should be noted that it appears the development will be done at higher levels and through internal processes. We are still focused on demanding that survivors and students, faculty, and staff, are adequately represented and have a integral part in policy reform. President Jamie Cassels says in his statement;
“I made that commitment UVic and other BC post-secondary institutions have been working with the provincial government to collect best practices and develop a framework that provides guidance and an integrated approach for responding to sexualized violence. This has also involved seeking advice regarding the process for the review and development of a university policy that more directly and effectively addresses the issue of sexual and gender-based violence.”
Read the whole statement here: Message from the President on Sexual Assualt
This is a good step forward in policy reform, however, we find the terms ‘seeking advice’ to be vague and unaccountable. UVic should work horizontally in this endeavor to review and develop, which means, not just seeking advice from community, but having community at the table!