Currently, UBC is working on creating a new Sexual Assault policy. Sexual assault on campuses has become an international epidemic; as such, students are demanding their universities show more incentive to protect students and prosecute perpetrators. In response, UBC has Proposed Policy 131. After reading the proposal, this is my reaction:
What I liked:
Instantly, UBC acknowledges that it “has a responsibility to maintain a respectful environment where its members can study, work and live free from concerns of sexual assault” (1). I was relieved that the university knew the importance of its role in preventing and responding to sexual assault on campus.
In section 2, Commitments and General Principles, I was, for the most part, happy to see that UBC noted the seriousness of sexual assault. It also included that protection applies to people of all genders and sexual orientations, and that sexual assault is largely committed against vulnerable women.
Section 2 also noted that it would “not tolerate any retaliation…against anyone who Discloses or Reports a Sexual Assault” (3). This is important because often the survivor does not come forward for fear of harassment from peers after they report. The Proposed Policy also addressed how after disclosing, it is up to the victim whether or not they want to report, take the allegations to the police, or anything else regarding their case. In addition, when the survivor is disclosing, they must be treated with compassion and not “slut-shamed.” Finally, I agreed with UBC’s clear definitions of consent and sexual assault.
What I didn’t like:
Although I agreed with the majority of Proposed Policy 131, there were a few things that struck me as odd or confusing:
First, Section 2.12 states: “UBC is committed to addressing allegations of Sexual Assault made against Members of the UBC Community and, if found to have committed Sexual Assault, imposing discipline against those Members” (2). This notion seems great, but the Proposed Policy fails to explain what discipline entails: does this mean expulsion? Criminal charges? Suspension? A warning? It is unclear.
Also, Section 5.3.2 outlines how survivors have the right to know what is happening with their report, “but not the details of any disciplinary actions that may have been taken against the respondent unless sharing that information is necessary for the protection of their health or safety” (5). This statement seemed faulty to me: wouldn’t any information about the respondent’s repercussions be a concern to a survivor’s health and safety? How can survivors be expected to move on and feel protected if they don’t even know the outcome of their report?
Lastly, Section 3.1 discusses how, if you are a victim of sexual assault, you can disclose this information without making a Report, and that “Disclosure does not result in a Report being made, and does not initiate a process to address the Sexual Assault” (3). This is not a bad policy, but I thought this was a little confusing. If you had not read the Policy, you might not be aware that you have to both disclose and report to seek action.
Overall, I felt satisfied and encouraged that UBC is taking steps to provide a serious Sexual Assault Policy. However, there are a few things that need some tweaking and/or further explanation. Make sure that you take the time to read the report yourselves, HCUBC Cuties, and let us, and UBC, know what you think.