After months of consultation with the university community, Brandon University’s Board of Governors unanimously passed a new Sexualized Violence Policy on March 25th, 2017.
In an email sent to students, the university stated that the new policy not only guides its response to incidents of sexual violence, but also powers “the University’s commitment to education and prevention,” in place of what BU Vice-President (Academic & Provost) Dr. Steven Robinson described as an “antiquated response system.”
The policy itself also states that BU strives “to instill a safe, inclusive and respectful University community informed by intersectionality,” while recognizing that “universities are not immune to wider social environments, gender biases, and rape culture.”
The policy lists several “guiding principles,” including a “trauma-informed” and “survivor-centred” approach, and a “culture of consent,” recognizing that “the person initiating the activity ask for consent, and that the only valid consent is freely given, not passive, silent or coerced,” as well as consent being able to “be withdrawn at any time,” and that any sexual act done without consent “is an act of sexualized violence.”
Inclusivity is also listed as a guiding principle of the policy, which recognizes that although “sexualized violence is predominantly perpetrated by cisgender men against women,” everyone “is equally protected” under the policy.
Other guiding principles include “safety for all”, “prevention through education”, and “due process”, which states that “anyone investigating a concern or report must remain neutral.”
The accompanying Sexualized Violence Protocol, which outlines the specific steps BU will take in response to sexual violence, has yet to be similarly presented to the Board of Governors, but is “nearing completion,” though lacking a precise timeline.
Having both the policy and protocol in place would allow BU to conform to provincial legislation proposed in October 2016 that would require all post-secondary institutions in Manitoba to have policies and procedures to deal with sexual violence on their campuses.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 29, April 11th, 2017.