MESSAGE OF SUPPORT FOR SURVIVORS OF GENDERED AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE
SSMU Executive Committee
December 19, 2020
CONTENT WARNING: The following message references gendered and sexual violence, including the shortcomings of institutions in handling complaints. We recognize that bureaucratic reporting structures can themselves result in degrees of trauma over and above dealing with experiences of sexual violence. We encourage you to prioritize your own wellbeing as you choose how you want to engage with this statement. Listed at the end of this statement are Montreal-based resources including crisis centres, active listening services, and 24-hour support services both on and off-campus.
This content warning was developed with reference to the Community Disclosure Network’s statements. We are grateful to the CDN for leading the work of creating a safer environment at the SSMU, and we hope to build on their work as we continue to address gendered and sexual violence within our institution.
Dear SSMU Members,
The SSMU Executive Team feels that we must take a moment to acknowledge recent accounts of sexual violence on campus and reaffirm our unequivocal committment to survivors of gendered and sexual violence. Many will have seen the petition and disclosures, since removed, circulating across social media platforms. Many others are grappling with other, less publicized, instances of gendered and sexual violence in the McGill community. We encourage members of the McGill community to prioritize their wellbeing and keep in mind the wellbeing of others as they engage with survivors’ disclosures.
We cannot acknowledge these revelations and speak in support of survivors without also recognizing the pervasive and deeply rooted institutional deficiencies that continue to fail survivors and impede justice. McGill’s Policy Against Sexual-Violence and the Provincial Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information (CQLR c A- 2.1) are both deeply flawed. Under Chapter A-2.1, McGill’s procedures to investigate and resolve reports of sexual violence keep survivors in the dark, maintaining the Code of Silence that discourages survivors from making formal disclosures. McGill’s Policy Against Sexual Violence makes no mention of third-party reporting; while the procedural document does indicate that the University accepts anonymous and/or third-party reports, they are held to a higher standard than regular reports, and the option is not publicized, placing the onus on either the survivor or perpetrator to make a complaint.
Likewise, we must take accountability for our own shortcomings. Rape culture and acts of gendered and sexual violence remain a grave and pervasive issue on campus and within the SSMU. While we maintain policies against gendered and sexual violence, we recognize that inadequacies still exist. We know this statement is not enough, and we recognize that those who suffer the most from this deficiency are the survivors of sexual violence.
Over the past semester, we have taken tangible steps to improve our policies and procedures, including the overhaul of our Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy, which facilitates third-party reporting. While the SSMU remains an imperfect institution, we maintain our responsibility to stand with and support survivors. As such, we are committed to a trauma-informed and survivor-centric approach. We must continue listening to survivors and letting their needs guide our actions and ongoing improvements. We recognize the emotional and psychological toll that accompanies a disclosure of sexual violence and the immense potential for retraumatization. We must all prioritize the safety and wellbeing of survivors and continue to support them through every step of the process.
We have included a list of on-campus and community resources at the end of this statement. Your SSMU Executives will make themselves available to anyone who would like their support, even if you just need to talk. Gendered and sexual violence has no place on our campus and we will do everything in our power to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our members.
Gifford Marpole | Vice-President (Finance)
Maheen Akter | Vice-President (Student Life)
Jemark Earle | President
Ayo Ogunremi | Vice-President (External Affairs)
Brooklyn Frizzle | Vice-President (University Affairs)
Keep.meSAFE | Through MySSP app (Mobile app, iOS and Android) (60+ languages, 24/7)
Montreal Sexual Assault Centre | 1-888-933-9007 (bilingual, 24/7)
Provincial Hotline | 514-933-9007 or 1-888-933-9007 (bilingual, 24/7)
Crisis Text Line | Text HOME to 686868 (bilingual, 24/7)
CAVAC (Crime Victim Assistance Centre): 1-866-532-2822 (bilingual)
SOS violence conjugale | 1-800-363-9010 (bilingual, 24/7)
Écoute Entraide | 514-278-2130 or toll free 1-855-365-4463 (français, 8H-00H/7)
Suicide Action Montreal | 1-866-277-3553 (bilingual, 24/7)
Tel-Aide | 514-935-1101 (bilingual, 24/7)
SSMU Anti-Violence Coordinators | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) | email@example.com
McGill Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (OSVRSE) | 514-398-3954, firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Wellness Hub | 514-398-6017
Office of the Dean of Students | 514-398-4990, email@example.com
McGill Ombudsperson | 514-398-7059, firstname.lastname@example.org
International Student Services (ISS) | 514-398-4349
McGill Security Services | 514-398-3000
McGill Students’ Nightline | 514-398-6246