Sexual assault policy task force holds inaugural meeting

A next step has been taken in the process of forming a sexual assault policy at TRU. The task force formed earlier this summer, held their inaugural meeting on Sept. 17.

The task force formed following the publishing of an article written by TRU student Jean Strong about her experience being turned away by a counselor when reporting being sexually assaulted in 2012.

According to dean of students Christine Adam, the role of the task force will be “to advise TRU’s president and senior administration.” The 27-member task force has members from staff, faculty and students. The task force has been divided into four smaller working groups: policy and procedure development, reporting and response, educational programming and communications.

Adam said that the inaugural meeting was mainly focused on organizing the objectives and responsibilities of the working groups. The education group, for example, would be deciding how it would be delivered, whether or not it would be mandatory, if it’s delivered online or in person, and whether it’s consent education, or bystander education, as well.

The task force also discussed how other institutions were approaching development of a sexual assault policy.

“We’re all at different stages and we’re all trying to work collaboratively – sharing information like policy language – there’s no sense in us spending a lot of time working on policy language if another institution has put a lot of effort into that and is willing to share,” Adam said.

She went on to say that other universities, particularly the University of Winnipeg, were further ahead of TRU in developing a dedicated sexual assault policy and could serve as an example going forward.

TRU student Jean Strong was not invited to attend the opening meeting but said that she would be called in if the task force had any questions for her.

“I would say that I’m glad to see that there are efforts being made on campus to create change. I hope that as the task force moves forward I will be included in decision making about what the best options are for TRU to educate students to prevent assault and especially in what an appropriate response from the school constitutes,” Strong said.

Adam said that the working groups of the task force will be issuing call-outs for input from students who have had direct experience with sexual violence.

“It would be inappropriate for us to not be hearing those voices,” Adam said, adding that students who would like to participate in the process can come to her directly.

The task force meets next on Nov. 19.