First off congratulations to those who had exams on finishing them up! While I am sure that many of you are now turning to thoughts of summer (whether than means, work, school, relaxation, or some combination of all three) I wanted to talked about something really important that you can do before heading off. As you may have heard, UBC, through the Sexual Assault Policy Committee, is working on a new Sexual Assault Policy, currently scheduled to appear in draft form this June. Another group, the University Sexual Assault Panel, is working to “outline action items in relation to prevention, response, institutional accountability and the overall UBC climate around sexual violence” As part of this important work they have put out a call to faculty, staff, and students at both the UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan campuses to provide questions to the follow two questions:
“1. What are the features of an ideal response by UBC to the problem of sexual assaults involving members of the university community?”
“2. What is required for members of the UBC community to have confidence in UBC’s institutional accountability on the issue of sexual assault?”
I know that the last thing people may want to think about right now may be school related, but it is critical for all members of the university community to have their voices heard. At the same time, I understand that it can be intimidating to send in comments to these sorts of questions. While the message that was sent out the university community did include some links with information, I thought that I would include a couple more and provide some more information on the links already provided. At the same time, as a member of the university community, your views are incredibly important, so don’t feel like you can’t comment because you have not been able to follow all of the information and policies that have been put out there.
One helpful (but rather long!) source of information is the UBC Vancouver Sexual Assault Response and Support Protocol a document which came out in February of this year and sought to summarize “current UBC practices and procedures regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault”. In addition, this document lays out of the terminology used in these discussions, as well as providing a list of available resources. If you have a chance to look at this document think about to what extent these existing practices are in line with what you think should be in place, similar to question number one.
Another thing to look at is some of the information and resources that are currently made available to staff by the UBC administration. One such resource for providing assistance to student survivors lays out suggestions on listening, showing support, providing resources, among other important topics. I found it really useful to look at this question in guiding my thinking about how I might want a response to look like at the individual level.
You could also check out the draft Education Plan made by the Sexual Assault Prevention Team. It lays out many of the events, workshops, talks, and initiatives on campus related to building awareness about sexual assault on campus. Of the events that are listed, what sorts would you like to see more of, and to what extent do you see them as being part of the response to sexual assault?
Beyond these more official documents originating from within UBC, there have also been articles in the news, often commenting on these very same issues, which are another source of information. However, I want to reiterate that no matter what it is crucial that as many voices are heard as possible in response to these important questions. Responses are being collected until May 8th and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and I really hope that you have an opportunity to send yours in!