The University of Victoria will begin consultations this month to develop a separate policy on sexualized violence.
UVic president Jamie Cassels initiated the policy review earlier this year that will include widespread consultation, consider policies and practices at other institutions and learn from local, provincial and national conversations on how to respond to sexualized violence, which can have a profound and long-lasting effect on survivors.
“Sexualized violence is a significant issue both on our campus and in the wider community and we have an important role to play as leaders, educators and community partners,” said Cassels.
The province introduced legislation last week to make campuses safer and more responsive to the needs of victims by requiring public post-secondary institutions to establish sexual misconduct policies.
The bill was introduced in March by Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver.
“Adding the weight of the law sends a clear signal that acts of sexual violence against students will not be tolerated on post-secondary campuses,” said Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party. “It is welcome news that government has stood up along with post-secondary institutions to say enough is enough.”
Post-secondary institutions will be given one year from the date of royal assent to establish a sexual misconduct policy that is consistent with the legislation.
While UVic has policies and programs that encompass the prevention and response to issues of sexualized violence including survivor support and provisions for a confidential, fair process when assaults are reported, it does not have a policy that focuses exclusively on sexualized violence.
“A working group with diverse members is undertaking this important work at UVic to recommend a campus-wide policy on sexualized violence,” said UVic provost Valerie Kuehne, the project’s lead sponsor.
Consultations will include survivors of sexualized violence and those most vulnerable to sexualized violence, groups on and off campus who have experience working with survivors, legal counsel and policy experts among others.
A progress report with possible interim measures is scheduled for the fall, with a draft policy expected to be ready in early 2017 for review and further input before going to the board of governors for approval in spring 2017.