On August 21st, the Minister for Higher Education in Québec, Hélène David, announced the release of a provincial strategy for the fight against sexual violence on campuses. SSMU particularly applauds the commitment to $23 million in 5 years, which is a financial commitment that other provinces, such as Ontario, have failed to make in their own provincial policies to address sexual violence. However it is with hesitancy that we welcome the strategy.
We respond to the announcement with hesitation because of concerns raised during the consultation process for this strategy – namely the lack of voices of persons who have experienced sexual assault (PWESA) given space within each of the 5 consultations . The strategy is certainly well-intentioned, and we look forward to seeing the bill that will outline exactly what the dedicated funds would go to. Until it is clear what is expected of universities and CÉGEPs in Québec, and how it works to address the different realities of various campuses, we will continue to be hopeful for more clarity and concrete pro-survivor approaches to policy from Minister David’s office.
Some resources for our members wishing to have more information on the consultations and provincial movement against sexual assault:
The SSMU expects to have its comments and concerns, and the comments and concerns of other universities and CÉGEPs heard by the Minister once the bill is released, and looks forward to continuing to work with the Minister’s office on addressing the reality of sexual violence experienced by so many across campuses in Québec in a way that does not perpetuate the systems of power that invalidate and decentralize PWESA’s voices. We will be following the provincial developments and encourage our members to do the same.
Muna Tojiboeva, President
Jemark Earle, Vice-President (Student Life)
Arisha Khan, Vice-President (Finance)
Maya Koparkar, Vice-President (Internal Affairs)
Isabelle Oke, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Connor Spencer, Vice-President (External Affairs)