UBC sexual assault panel and policy committee announced

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UBC has announced the formation of two new groups to help it tackle sexual assault on campus, after scathing criticism of its delayed system for dealing with complaints.

The first group is a sexual assault policy committee of 12 people – faculty members, staff and students from both the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses:

  • Kimberley Beck (co–chair): Legal Counsel, Office of the University Counsel, UBC Vancouver
  • Sara-Jane Finlay (co–chair): Associate Vice president, Equity and Inclusion, UBC Vancouver
  • Shannon Dunn: Director, Business Operations, AVP Finance and Operations, UBC Okanagan
  • Tobias Friedel: President, Graduate Students Society, UBC Vancouver
  • Susan Frohlick: Professor, Head of Community, Culture and Global Studies Unit, Irving K Barber School of Arts and Sciences, UBC Okanagan
  • Isabel Grant: Professor, Allard School of Law, UBC Vancouver
  • Daniel Heath: Justice Professor, Department of English, Chair of the First Nations Studies Program, UBC Vancouver
  • Patricia Mirwaldt: Director, UBC Student Health Services, UBC Vancouver
  • Linda McKnight: Director, HR Advisory Services, Human Resources – UBC Vancouver
  • Jenna Omassi: Vice President Academic & University Affairs, Alma Mater Society, UBC Vancouver
  • Janice Robinson: Director, Residence Life, Student Housing and Hospitality Services – UBC Vancouver
  • Kimberly Rutledge: UBC Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO), UBC Okanagan

The committee will present a new draft sexual assault policy to UBC’s board of governors in June, setting out what the university should do when a sexual assault complaint is made.

The second group announced this week is a university panel on sexual assault, made up of four faculty members and a graduate student:

  • Janine Benedet (Chair): Professor, Co-Director, Centre for Feminist Legal Studies, Allard School of Law
  • Shauna Butterwick: Professor, Educational Studies, Faculty of Education
  • Scott Anderson: Assistant Professor, Philosophy Department, Faculty of Arts
  • Sarah Hunt: Assistant Professor, First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program (FNIS), Faculty of Arts
  • Lucia Lorenzi: Graduate student, Department of English, Faculty of Arts

The panel will look at sexual assault at UBC and on campuses across Canada and make recommendations for education and preventative action that can be taken at the university.

It will also make recommendations to the policy committee in May.

‘Sexual assault is a crime like no other’

The move comes after heavy criticism of UBC’s sexual assault policies, which, according to an independent report commissioned by the university, led to severe delays in dealing with complaints from several women against a fellow student.

In January, 80 faculty members actually published a letter apologizing to the UBC community for the school’s policies on addressing sexual assault.

Sara-Jane Finlay, Associate Vice-President of Equity and Inclusion at UBC, says the university is now bringing together some strong expertise to help improve procedure.

“Sexual assault is a crime like no other,” she told Vancity Buzz.

“We need to be finding the most supportive processes and policies to help survivors who come forward and ensure that due process and natural justice can occur.”

Finlay defended UBC’s policies up to now and said they had served UBC well in the past, but there was growing acceptance across Canada that more needed to change in the area of sexual assault.

“Policies are relatively static docs and often they only contain a broad statement of principles and accountability,” she said.

“All those are important, but the most important thing we can be doing is education and working towards prevention, because that is something that’s forward-moving and where we can work most closely with our community.”

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Jenni Sheppard Staff writer at Vancity Buzz. Happy Vancouverite. Traveller, snowboarder, film fan, feminist, geek, curler.
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