Amid scrutiny over UBC Athletics' sexual violence prevention, province rolls out free training

Shortly following the announcement that three former UBC football players were charged with sexual assault, the provincial government rolled out a free training series on sexual violence for BC’s post-secondary institutions.

UBC has not yet determined if it will be broadly implementing the series, entitled Preventing and Responding to Sexual Violence. The training has four 90-minute training sessions, centred around consent, supporting survivors, accountability and bystander intervention.

Executive Director of BCcampus Mary Burgess said the centre worked alongside representatives from different post secondary schools to develop the training series.

“By actively including representation from our diverse communities, these resources should be helpful for all B.C. residents,” she said in a press release.

Concerns arose around sexual violence training in UBC Athletics after the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) said it offered training to UBC Athletics in 2018 — the year the football players allegedly assaulted a woman — but it was turned down.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Kavie Toor, managing director of UBC Athletics and Recreation, said UBC Athletics is reviewing the provincial training, along with other resources, in a process to update its sexual violence training.

“There have been many conversations this past month with staff, coaches, student athletes, alumni, department EDI [Equity, Diversity and Inclusion] committees and campus partners about future approaches,” Toor wrote.

Currently, Toor said UBC Athletics’ approach to sexual violence has included having athletes sign the Varsity Code of Conduct and undergo training with Blueprint and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO).

Toor said going forward, UBC Athletics has identified a few needs around sexual violence prevention, including building awareness of sexualized violence, ensuring a safe environment, training staff and students to be able to support survivors appropriately and committing to a regular review of policies and practices.

The department of athletics and recreation will be providing an update on a “go-forward plan” around sexual violence by mid-August.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, SASC Manager Aashna Josh said that she thinks UBC Athletics should look into implementing the training series.

“I know [UBC Athletics] do a little bit of orientation work with SVPRO. I'm not quite sure what that looks like … but I think one training is never enough,” said Josh.

According to Josh, the provincial training series is similar to training already offered by the SASC, but she said the SASC is open to including this training in its services.

But while Josh thinks implementing this training would be a good start, she doesn’t think it's going to solve sexual violence at UBC.

“I think what's really needed is a culture shift, I think what needs to be addressed is a culture that allows for sexual violence to persist and allows accountability not to exist,” Josh said.

“It’s attitudes and beliefs that dehumanize people and people then internalize that need to change ... I think [the training is] a start and it will just have to happen bits and pieces from there.”

This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Kavie Toor’s name. The Ubyssey regrets this error.