Letter: The changes to SASC will open new avenues for education, outreach and advocacy

The following has been previously published as a public statement by the AMS.

The AMS Sexual Assault Support Center (SASC) has served the UBC community for years with its exceptional support work, outreach, education and advocacy. They have continually stood by survivors and offered our community the chance to engage in much-needed conversations about consent with the overarching goal of creating a safe campus for all.

The implementation of UBC Policy 131, Sexual Assault and Other Sexual Misconduct in May 2017 led to the mandated creation of UBC’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) offering the AMS and SASC an opportunity to work closely with this newly-established support office and hold UBC accountable in the implementation and improvement of Policy 131. The collaborative and successful work over the past year confirmed the AMS’ confidence in SVPRO’s ability to fully serve our community and function as one centralized space providing ongoing support services for survivors.

As such, we have decided to focus SASC on education, outreach, advocacy and an integral role in ongoing assistance for AMS human resources, clubs and constituencies’ responses to sexual violence. This means that starting at the end of August, ongoing support services will no longer be offered by SASC and SVPRO will provide enhanced ongoing support services and additional services.

For years, the AMS has advocated for a standalone UBC Sexual Violence Policy that included a survivor-centric office dedicated to support services and offering accommodations and concessions for survivors. As we have familiarized ourselves with the new landscape at UBC and the new resources available, it is clear SVPRO is well equipped to provide support that is survivor centric, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive and intersectional.

SASC was created because there was a gap and a need in our community to provide support and advocacy for survivors when support and advocacy structures within UBC did not exist. With the creation of SVPRO, there is now a structure that has the capacity to offer ongoing support services to our community and to do so in a manner that is inclusive and accessible to all. This creates the opportunity for there to be one centralized space for ongoing support services available to all students, faculty, staff and community members to access as a valuable resource.

The end of August was chosen because it marks the start of a new year, with a new cohort of students, and an upcoming significant awareness campaign by UBC and AMS provides the ideal opportunity to educate students about support on campus and communicate a clear avenue for ongoing support services. As we look forward to the new academic year, we are enthusiastic about the potential that these changes to SASC have in implementing a new vision to tackle the many gaps that have not yet been fully addressed.

We thank our dedicated SASC team that has diligently worked to provide a space where survivors have always felt they are believed and supported and we look forward to all the great work that will continue to happen from SASC. The AMS, with SASC and community members, will continue to actively advocate for a university community that believes survivors and holds all stakeholders accountable for their commitment to make our communities a safe space for all.

The AMS will be holding a town hall on July 5th – time and location to be determined– to hear all community members concerns and questions. We understand the need for our community to know more about this decision and we hope that we can respect that need. There will be an online forum for community members to submit questions and concerns if they cannot come in person.