Sexual assault policy to be presented to TRU board in February

Notice of motion postponed from December meeting to allow until Jan. 20 for more consultation

TRU’s policy was initially meant to be tabled in December, but won’t be put to TRU’s board of governors until February. The province imposed a May 19 deadline for implementation of a policy for all post-secondary institutions in B.C.. (FILE PHOTO)

The notice of motion for TRU’s draft sexual violence policy was originally meant to be presented at the Dec. 9 Board of Governors meeting, but was delayed last month to the Feb. 3 meeting to allow more time to evaluate feedback.

Consultations were coordinated with several councils and groups on both campuses from Sep. 21 to Dec. 2, days before the Board of Governors meeting on Dec. 9.

Dean of Students Christine Adam said that over 100 people have given feedback to the policy. By postponing the notice of motion to February, Adam said that it allows time to properly consider feedback on the policy and will not affect the timeline to implement the policy.

Legislation to require universities to implement sexual violence response policies was introduced last May as a private member’s bill by B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. The provincial government has given post-secondary institutions until May 19 to implement their policies.

The draft policy lists the responsibilities of the university to survivors of sexual violence on campus, including providing support services, investigating the incident and disciplining the accused, if it is found that they engaged in sexual violence. The policy also implements providing education to the university community on consent and sexual violence prevention.

“The main focus [of the policy] is to create a safe place for everyone to work and study. It’s prevention, it’s response to survivors, and then it is having appropriate reporting mechanism when survivors decide that they want to go forward with a university process,” Adam said.

Survivors are also supported in reporting the incident to police, but only if they wish to do so, and can do so anonymously by being connected to the Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre, who is able to report the incident without identifying the survivor.

Sierra Rae, women’s representative for TRUSU, said that she believes the draft policy is sufficient and she is encouraged by open participation in the consultation process. The TRUSU Equity Committee participated in developing the policy and is pleased with the draft.

“We think that the commitment to the sexual violence education in the policy is excellent and that the policy protects victims and provides a fair process to those accused,” Rae said.

“I think this policy … is going to be really important for protecting people who have endured sexual violence and making [sexual violence] an issue.”

Feedback on the policy is welcome until Jan. 20. Staff and students can still review and send feedback by visiting tru.ca/sexual-violence/policy-consultation.