The university held its first Sexual Assault Policy Information Session on September 20 in order to educate the community about the proposed Policy 131 on sexual assault.
The information session was led by Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president of Equity & Inclusion, as well as Kimberly Beck, legal counsel from the Office of the University Counsel.
Finlay explained that at the end of the consultation period, the Sexual Assault Policy Committee will regroup in order to “consider the feedback that has been given and work on redrafting the policy in order to submit it again to the Board (UBC's Board of Governors) for approval."
Student attendance at the event was minimal, but there is another chance to get involved and attend UBC’s last information session on October 13, which will be held in the Great Hall in the Nest.
Apart from events held by UBC, there are other sessions and initiatives taking place that provide the UBC community with opportunities to be informed on matters surrounding sexual violence on campus.
The AMS is holding a free two-day conference with The International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy (ICCLR), and the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia (EVA BC). The conference begins today — September 30 — at 8 a.m. in the Great Hall, and will conclude on October 1 at 4:30 p.m.
The event page for the AMS conference states that the intention is to “provide tools to better respond to campus sexual violence, and inform and discuss the development and implementation of post-secondary policies, protocols, prevention strategies, and community collaboration, while providing a safe space to understand and incorporate the lived experience of survivors.”
“What was noted by a couple of students that attended was that UBC’s session was more informative, and not quite consultative, and we wanted a more consultative one,” said AMS VP Academic Samantha So.
“[Our sessions are] asking students about an ideal approach to them, from the university, in terms of responding to sexual assault, and then applying it to existing structures,” she said. “It really ties back to how our approach has been to keep in mind accessibility in terms of students being able to understand and access this kind of information.”
The AMS has also decided to extend their consultation campaign to October 21.
In regards to the GSS's engagement in the consultation process, Gen Cruz, GSS President, explained that their approach is to “promote the [UBC] information sessions and to make ourselves available individually. As to having an event similar to the AMS, it’s not really realistic for the culture of graduate students, because a lot of graduate students aren’t actively doing research at the university right now.
"For those that are, our consults are open and the people are invited to give feedback — but as to making an event, it’s not realistic given the narrow timeline we have.”
Despite the GSS’s less explicit approach to consultation regarding the sexual assault policy, Cruz states that there are also ways in which graduate students can get involved.
Cruz noted that the GSS has assembled a focus group of councillors who are most interested in working on the sexual assault policy draft. That group has been meeting and going through the policy, and will eventually release their own recommendations.
“We’re trying to be as strategic as possible with a response, but it’s taking some time. We didn’t join the campaign with SASC and the AMS because we wanted our own process, and to find our own findings based on graduate students," said Cruz.
The AMS's consultation period ends at the end of September, and the wider university consultation period will end on October 31.