SSMU & PGSS Statement on McGill Draft Policy Against Sexual Violence
September 13, 2016
On September 12, 2016, McGill University released a draft Policy Against Sexual Violence for community consultation with the intention of submitting it to Senate for approval before the end of 2016. This follows the administration’s rejection of a student-drafted policy in April and subsequent development of a new policy led by the Provost’s Office. The current feedback period is an important opportunity for student participation in efforts to implement pro-survivor, intersectional, and non-directional approaches to addressing sexual violence at McGill.
A clear policy is a necessary step toward improving the quality and accessibility of support for community members who experience sexual violence. We are encouraged by the current draft’s provisions for supporting survivors and the allocation of new resources in the form of a centralized office. The proposal also makes an important distinction between disclosures and reports of sexual violence, particularly in the right to receive accommodations without filing a formal report. Furthermore, it institutionalizes existing, proactive educational programming and expands training for those receiving disclosures and reports.
Despite these improvements, however, the current draft reinforces existing University limitations on responding to sexual violence. It does not address formal reporting and disciplinary procedures, relying instead on existing policies such as the Code of Student Conduct that fail to account for the specific challenges of cases on sexual violence. It also does little to guarantee or impose timelines on administrative responses to disclosures and reports beyond these existing policies.
We are calling on the University to take immediate steps to address these issues in direct consultation with students and survivors on campus. This includes fulfilling new resource commitments, centralizing intake for disclosures and reports, and detailing the full scope of support and recourse measures associated with the policy. Furthermore, the review of current policies and procedures outlined in Article 21 of the draft must explicitly seek to change and improve upon existing reporting measures. The University’s stated commitment to effective prevention and response to sexual violence can only progress if the voices of students and survivors are prioritized at all stages of policy development and implementation.
We encourage all students, particularly those who have lived experience with sexual violence and with navigating university reporting structures, to provide their input via McGill’s online anonymous feedback form. We are committed to representing the needs of our members and will be offering closed focus groups in order to gather feedback on the policy draft. These consultations will inform our engagement with the administration on this issue for the months to come.
Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Executive Committee
Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Executive Committee
1. Erin Sobat, SSMU Vice-President (University Affairs)
2. Angela Yu, PGSS Equity Commissioner
For a list of support resources related to sexual violence, please click here.