Laurier’s new sexual violence policy is one step closer to approval

Photo by Jess Dik
Photo by Jess Dik

The Gendered Violence Task Force held a town hall meeting last Thursday on Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo campus, to provide students a space to discuss and ask questions about the newly released sexual violence policy and procedure.

Town halls were additionally held on both the Laurier Brantford and Kitchener campuses earlier that same week, ensuring that all interested students had the opportunity to voice their concerns, without restriction due to geography.

Though the Task Force is happy with the engagement they received, attendance at all town halls was extremely low, with a mere 10-12 individuals at the Brantford and Waterloo meetings and a single participant showing up in Kitchener.

“Though there weren’t a lot of people, the people who came were really engaged in the conversation, [and they were] really well informed about the policy and so they had a lot of good questions,” said Lynn Kane, manager of gendered violence prevention and support.

Though there weren’t a lot of people, the people who came were really engaged in the conversation.

-Lynn Kane, manager of gendered violence prevention and support

“[At] Both of them, we had [the] opportunity for an hour and a half [for questions] and it went the full hour and a half because there was lots to talk about.”

All of this feedback from the town halls was combined  in addition to emails and electronic submissions, as well as meetings held between the Task Force and the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association.

“A significant change we made was to enhance the section around appeals and we added more information about who would appeal as filed against, so it’s really filed against the university, not either party, and more clarity around people’s right to choose not to participate in that process should they wish,” said Kane.

“We added a little bit more information about the training and education that would be provided to staff members who are enacting the policy and to staff members who are key points for receiving disclosures, so we make a commitment to educating those folks in a trauma informed way and that’s something that we heard loud and clear through the policy consultations.”

Students have been involved in the drafting of the policy in various capacities since the lack of policy was brought to the university’s attention by a group of Brantford students who created Advocates for Student Culture of Consent, a group who was involved in drafting the policy portion of the document.

Though work began on the policy in 2014, the process was recently sped-up as a result of the passing of Bill 132, which requires all Ontario universities to have a sexual violence policy implemented come Jan. 1, 2017.

The policy will go to the Laurier board of governors on Nov. 24, on which date they will vote on whether to approve the policy and procedure.

*Note: WLUSP HR Manager, Taylor Berzins, is a co-founder of ASCC

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