UBC NOW — 2017

April 13, 2017

New sexual assault policy introduced after extensive consultation

After invaluable feedback from the university community during a two-phased, five-month consultation period, investigations into sexual assault and other sexual misconduct at UBC will be guided by a new policy approved by UBC’s Board of Governors today.

“Sexual assault survivors and other members of the campus community have told us that past policies used to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct weren’t working,” said Louise Cowin, VP, Students and chair of the steering committee on sexual assault. “We hope the new policy will make it easier for people who have experienced sexual violence to come forward, get the support they need, and build confidence and trust in the investigation process.”

Taking effect next month, Policy #131 — Sexual Assault and other Sexual Misconduct (PDF) includes a new process to respond to and investigate allegations of sexual misconduct; reporting options and supports for UBC community members affected by sexual misconduct; and education initiatives for the UBC community on the prevention of sexual misconduct.

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We hope the new policy will make it easier for people who have experienced sexual violence to come forward, get the support they need, and build confidence and trust in the investigation process.

“The new policy is what it is because of the extensive and smart consultation feedback the UBC community gave the committees responsible for this document,” said Margot Young, professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law and a member of the steering committee on sexual assault. “It was clear that we needed a streamlined disclosure and reporting procedure and the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices — one at each of UBC’s campuses — are important features of the new policy and responsive to the concerns of the UBC community about the existing practice.”

Previously, complaints of sexual misconduct at UBC were guided by a number of different university procedures, including the non-academic student misconduct process and the harassment and discrimination policy (Policy #3).

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The Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Offices — one at each of UBC’s campuses — are important features of the new policy and responsive to the concerns of the UBC community about the existing practice.

Work on a standalone policy began in January 2016 under the direction of former president Martha Piper. A first draft of the policy was presented to the Board of Governors in June 2016, and a second, substantially revised draft in February 2017.

UBC students, faculty and staff, as well as other community stakeholders had the opportunity to provide feedback on the policy during five and a half months of consultation — the first between June and October 2016 on the first draft of the policy. A second draft of the policy incorporated input from the consultation period, the UBC Sexual Assault Panel report (PDF), the steering committee on sexual assault, and changes to abide by provincial legislation introduced in April 2016. Another round of consultation on the second, substantially revised draft of the policy occurred in February and March of this year, resulting in a refined, third draft of the policy.

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There were those who came out and told their stories, who bravely shared their experiences with the committees and committee members so that no one else would have to experience the same trauma. Their stories are the backbone of this policy.

“There were those who came out and told their stories, who bravely shared their experiences with the committees and committee members so that no one else would have to experience the same trauma. Their stories are the backbone of this policy,” said Gen Cruz, president of the UBC Graduate Student Society and a member of the steering committee on sexual assault.

“I want to thank the members of the sexual assault policy committee — led by co-chairs Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president of Equity & Inclusion, and Kimberley Beck, Legal Counsel from the Office of the University Counsel — and the steering committee on sexual assault for their thoughtful and steadfast work to develop the new policy, taking into account leading academic research in this area and, most importantly, feedback from survivors, the campus community and other stakeholders,” added Cowin.

Work continues on an action plan — informed by the UBC Sexual Assault Panel and led by the steering committee on sexual assault — to create a more respectful and inclusive university environment and improve procedures to address sexual assault and sexual harassment.

View a timeline of the sexual misconduct policy development process:

Sexual Assault Policy Consultation Inforgraphic

Click to see the full timeline

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