SSMU Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy

SSMU Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy

SSMU Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy

Purpose

The Gendered and Sexualized Violence Policy (GSVP) serves to create confidential and survivor-centric processes for members of the SSMU community who have experienced sexual violence and/or gendered violence to receive support and accommodations and make a complaint about sexual violence. The policy provides both informal and formal mechanisms informed by a survivor centric approach that takes into account the wishes and needs of the survivor.

The Policy also mandates that members of the SSMU – elected representatives, staff, and members of clubs and services – must take part in education initiatives to confront and dismantle rape culture at the University and within the Society. It gives the executives and permanent staff of the SSMU specific responsibilities. In addition, the Policy creates the Anti-Violence Coordinator (AVC) position. The AVCs coordinate the implementation of the Policy by facilitating education, overseeing the investigations and disciplinary processes, and providing support to survivors.

Background

The Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy was written in response to harm perpetrated by members of the 2016-2017 SSMU Executive who committed acts of sexual violence against a dozen students from the McGill community. The SSMU failed to take active steps to investigate and respond to rumours and informal and formal complaints regarding the individuals in question. The lack of clear procedure, survivor-centric processes, and disclosure training perpetuated the re-traumatization of survivors who sought to hold the SSMU executive members accountable for their actions and ensure that they could no longer hold positions at the SSMU.

Due largely to the unpaid emotional and physical labour of the Community Disclosure Network (CDN), this harm was brought to light in the winter of 2017 through an anonymous disclosure campaign. Because of CDN’s work, both individuals in question resigned from their positions in the SSMU, with less than a few months left in their terms. These incidents revealed the serious shortcomings in the SSMU’s ability to respond to sexual violence internally. The GSVP was created to ensure that the harm and re-traumatization that survivors experienced will not happen again.

In the Winter 2018 term, the GSVP was drafted by Caitlin Salvino, Priya Dube, and Bee Khaleeli after consultations with campus stakeholders and students. The Policy was passed by the SSMU in the Fall 2018 term.

Complaint Process

The GSVP applies to all members of the SSMU community, including individuals using or participating in SSMU Services and Clubs or individuals on SSMU property. It applies to all forms of gendered violence, sexual harassment, and sexual violence.

The policy broadly defines sexual violence as any non-consensual, unwanted actual, attempted, or threatened act or behaviour that is carried out through sexual means or by targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression. This act may or may not involve physical contact. Types of sexual violence include sexual assault, sexual coercion, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, distribution of sexually explicit photograph or recording, and stealthing.

Gendered violence is defined as any act of physical, verbal, or emotional aggression which implicates, targets, or de-legitimizes an individual’s gender presentation or identity; or an act reinforcing gender inequalities resulting in physical, sexual, emotional, or economic harm. This includes misogynistic, queerphobic, and transphobic violence. Gendered violence is often implicit, and the gendered dynamics which enable it may not always be visible.

Instances that fall under this policy include any act of gendered violence, sexual harassment, and sexual violence that may negatively affect a person’s ability to feel safe and to access SSMU spaces or services. This includes instances that take place in the University’s learning, living, or work environment, on or off campus, or through social or other electronic media.

The SSMU recognizes that the process of making a complaint can be a difficult process and works to lessen the emotional labour of making a complaint. At any point in the complaint process, the person making a complaint can choose to withdraw their complaint and end the process. At no point in the process will the person making the complaint be asked questions about their character and choices, including questions about their prior sexual activity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Both the person making the complaint and the person the complaint is about have the right to a support person and an advocate and have the right to ask for information about the case and its progress.

Complaint Procedure

If an individual wants to disclose an incident of sexual or gendered violence, they can contact the Anti-Violence Coordinator at avc@ssmu.ca. If you are not sure if your experiences fit within the GSVP or are unsure of your next steps, the AVC can assist you.

First, the AVC will discuss resources and accommodations. This could include student-run or institutional resources at McGill or resources in the wider Montreal area. Accommodations could include workplace accommodations or assistance receiving institutional accommodations like exam deferrals, class changes, housing changes, or financial support.

If an individual would like to proceed with a form of resolution, there are two options – formal and informal complaints.

Informal Complaints

An informal resolution is an informal, survivor-centric process for recourse following a disclosure. Possible outcomes include:

To initiate an informal resolution, an individual can request one from the AVC. The process is flexible and can change depending on the situation.

Formal Complaints

A formal resolution is initiated by a formal written request to investigate and address an incident or incidents of gendered and/or sexual violence. Possible outcomes include:

To initiate a formal complaint, the individual can submit a formal, written complaint to the AVC detailing the situation. The AVC can also assist individuals in filing a formal complaint. Within 48 hours of receiving the complaint, the AVC will acknowledge that they have received it. Within a week, they will decide whether or not to initiate an investigation. They will inform the individual of their decision either way.

Depending on the context of the complaint, it will either be investigated by an Anti-Violence Advocate, which can take a maximum of two weeks, or an external investigator, which can take a maximum of one month. Following an investigation, an anonymous and confidential report that outlines the collected evidence as well as the conclusions of the investigator will be produced. The report will then be reviewed by the GSVP Committee, which will make a final decision and apply sanctions. Individuals have the right to appeal the decision of the committee.

If you have questions about the GSVP or the complaint process, please contact the Anti-Violence Coordinators at avc@ssmu.ca.