Brandon University’s Sexual Assault Advisory Group (SAAG) turned to the public for feedback on its in-progress sexual violence protocol in a town hall meeting last Tuesday.
The meeting comes after public consultations on its accompanying sexualized violence policy, and is the last meeting before both the policy and protocol are presented to Brandon University’s Board of Governors this coming Saturday.
“The protocol that accompanies [the policy] is more of a roadmap for implementation of the policy,” said BU Vice-President (Academic & Provost) Dr. Steven Robinson when introducing the protocol at the meeting, where he also described it as “less abstract, less high-level, and therefore, also more subject to revision and adaptation as we go.”
Questions were raised on the meaning of the word “reasonable” as used in the protocol, which BU’s Diversity and Human Rights Advisor, Lisa Park, elaborated on by saying, “We have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship, so ‘reasonable’ has a pretty broad definition.”
Park also mentioned at the meeting, in the context of police investigations and having access to evidence of sexual violence, “[While the police] have to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, we...have [a] balance...I could be 49% thinking, ‘Oh, no, nothing happened here,’ and 51% ‘Yeah, something happened’ - 51% is all you need to find someone has breached this policy. That’s the only standard that we are held to.”
Feedback was also received pertaining to the university’s support of victims of sexual violence, how much longer it would go on after a student’s graduation. Park commented that those in need of counselling would not be “cut off”, but instead more smoothly transitioned to different resources after their graduation.
One student brought the possibility of making a guide on how to submit a complaint of sexual violence, to which Park replied that the SAAG already had pre-completed sample forms to help victims with their complaints, and that such forms were still in draft. She also spoke of wanting to make the process as easy as possible.
However, she also stressed the importance of making sure forms were completed in as unbiased a manner as possible when asked about victims getting assistance when filing their complaints.
She related the scenario to examples of court cases “that were thrown out because somebody helped the person write their complaint, and so there was a perception that that person was biasing the information,” but mentioned that international students and those with accessibility needs would be given assistance.She related the scenario to examples of court cases “that were thrown out because somebody helped the person write their complaint, and so there was a perception that that person was biasing the information,” but mentioned that international students and those with accessibility needs would be given assistance.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 26, March 21, 2017.