Between the Motions: Councillors pass policy to create working advisory group for PC1/PC2

In the first council meeting of the 2023/24 academic year, councillors and students engaged in another long debate surrounding the nuances of a PC1/PC2 working group.

In the last two meetings, students-at-large expressed concern about PC1 and PC2, which cover workplace and sexualized violence, respectively. During the August 29 Council meeting, a motion to postpone the approval of both these policies indefinitely passed.

Representatives from the UBC Social Justice Centre (SJC) presented a motion through Medicine Counsellor Al Huuskonen that would require the proposed draft of changes to PC1/PC2 to be made in consultation with a working group composed of experts in trauma-informed approaches to sexualized violence.

“The primary objective of the working advisory group is for it to remain focused and maintain a concentrated and expert driven approach to addressing the issue of sexual assault,” said Mariam Abdelaziz, the chair of the SJC.

The motion forms an advisory working group consisting of experts from the Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO). The motion aims to have a presentation of the final draft to Council by January 2024.

Abdelaziz continued by explaining that the motion includes a provision for the working group to regularly report back to Council, ensuring accountability and transparency throughout the advisory process.

Former VP of Academic and University Affairs Dana Turdy spoke in support of the motion. She was the strategy and governance lead and worked alongside the policy advisor for PC1/PC2 in 2021 and said these are tangible things the AMS can do to protect survivors.

“There is precedent for working groups like the one proposed to you today,” she said. She cited a similar working group existing in 2019 that was created to support I-17, now PC2.

Turdy also mentioned how the Students' Society of McGill University'spolicy on gendered and sexualized violence, considered “a gold standard in Canada,” involves support workers and the student body in creation of their policy.

“There’s no reason why the AMS can’t do that,” said Turdy.

A later amendment proposed by AMS President Esmé Decker sought to include the AMS Ombudsperson, Managing Director, Clubs Administrator as liaison for the clubs, Legal Counsel, representatives for the Undergrad Societies/Constituencies, Graduate Student Society, Affiliate Colleges and AMS Staff as members of the working group.

“The Managing Director is the decision maker in the current policies,” said Decker. She said the Club’s Administrator is the “best representative we have for the AMS’ 400 clubs,” one of the primary groups who deal with PC1 and PC2 reports.

Representatives from the SJC opposed the addition due to concerns about the quality of recommendations being “diluted” by people with no expertise on sexual assault.

Turdy also spoke in opposition of adding these members to the working group saying, “It would be extremely difficult for anyone in this room to find any other advisory group on sexual violence in this country that have this many people on their advisory group.”

She argued that many other ways to receive feedback exist, such as surveys to clubs as students, as seen in her work on policy in 2021.

The amendment was changed to only include the Managing Director and Clubs Adminstrator and passed by Council.

Councillors then moved to vote on the main policy brought forward, the creation of a working group.

Abdelaziz spoke before the vote, encouraging Councillors to vote “yes.”

“While we would have preferred the original motion that we brought forward, this still ensures that it’s mostly content experts on the motion,” she said.

The motion passed with unanimous consent.