Prince George, B.C. - The University of Northern British Columbia is taking the next steps to ensure a healthier and safer environment for the UNBC community by announcing a new set of recommendations designed to guide the University in addressing the issue of sexual violence on campus.
In the spring of 2014, UNBC created the President’s Task Force on Sexual Violence. That task force worked with students, faculty, staff, and community members to assess the implications of sexual violence within UNBC’s student body. The Task Force submitted its final report, including 13 recommendations, to UNBC President Daniel Weeks on Sept. 16. Work is already underway to address those recommendations, which can be found at unbc.ca/sexual-violence-awareness-response
“Sexual violence on University campuses, or anywhere for that matter, is simply not acceptable,” says Dr. Weeks. “The Task Force engaged in thoughtful and deliberate work, and genuine conversations, and I thank the members for their good work. Now, we must continue to participate in open, honest and compassionate conversations, and strive to ensure healthy and safe environments for our community.”
To address one recommendation of the task force, a steering committee will work with the University’s senior administration team as well as other community members as appropriate.
That committee was formally struck last week, and includes the following members: Faculty member Dr. Gary Wilson, Assistant Director Student Affairs Brenda Slomka, Northern Women’s Centre Executive Director Sarah Boyd, and Human Resources Manager Kerry Roberts.
This committee will focus directly on significant student consultation and community feedback and support the university’s senior administration team in the implementation of meaningful responses and initiatives, including recent legislation passed by the Government of B.C, Bill 23 – 2016, the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act, which requires every public university, college and institute in B.C. to develop a sexual misconduct policy.
Student engagement and participation is a critical element in the development of initiatives and policies. Dr. Weeks has met with representatives of the undergraduate and graduate student body leadership to involve them from the outset of this process.
“Sexual violence is a societal issue that has a detrimental impact on students at university campuses across the country,” says Northern BC Undergraduate Student Society President Arctica Cunningham. “Universities have great power to create social change, as part of their role in educating the new generation of leaders in our society. I am very pleased that UNBC has been so proactive in addressing this critical issue, and I hope that through the work of the Steering Committee, consulting with students through active, meaningful participation, our campus will become an example of how to create safe, supportive spaces for all students pursuing higher education."
"Sexual violence against any person is unacceptable,” adds Trina Johnson, Northern BC Graduate Student Society President. "I hope to see a policy that assists victims in obtaining confidential access to inquiring about potential misconduct and assault, that provides effective reporting and action when misconduct, harassment, and assault are determined, and that results in improved education that will hopefully eliminate the need for such policies. I look forward to seeing effective collaboration between administration, faculty, and students which should result in a policy that works for UNBC at all levels.”
UNBC recognizes there is a lot of work to do regarding the issue of sexual violence.
“The work of a steering committee or task force alone can’t effect change on an issue as far reaching as this one,” adds Dr. Weeks. “A community response that is created through thoughtful leadership at all levels, willing participation, genuine acceptance of the issue, and the courage to address it is our best way forward.”
Peter James, Communications Officer
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Arctica Cunningham, Northern Undergraduate Student Society President
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