Background

Why has UNBC developed a Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy?

Sexual violence and misconduct are never acceptable. UNBC is committed to providing members of the university community with a safe, supportive and respectful environment in which to live, learn and work.  UNBC already has protocols and procedures in place to respond to incidents of sexual violence and misconduct, and this Policy supports and reinforces these existing protocols and procedures. The Policy also contributes to a broader and longer term conversation about the issue of sexual violence and misconduct at our campuses.

The new policy is a response to Bill 23 – 2016: Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act, provincial legislation which mandates the creation of such a policy at all post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.

What has UNBC done so far?

The Presidential Task Force on Sexual Violence was created in the spring of 2014 and submitted its final report in September 2016. The report contained a series of recommendations about how UNBC should respond to the issue of sexual violence and misconduct. The Steering Committee on Sexual Violence was created in October 2016 to respond to the recommendations of the Task Force. The first objective of the Steering Committee was to consult with students on the issue of sexual violence and misconduct in order to inform the development of a stand-alone policy and response procedures. This consultation process started in February 2017 with an online questionnaire, several focus groups, and opportunities for one-on-one interviews. This was followed in March 2017 with the release of the draft Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and accompanying Response Procedures to the university community and an opportunity to provide feedback online.

The review of the draft Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and Response Procedures was held until April 21, 2017. The Policy and Response Procedures was discussed by the University Senate on March 22, 2017 and by the University Board of Governors on March 31, 2017.  Feedback from the university community was considered and the final drafts of the Policy and Response Procedures were presented to the Board of Governors for approval in May 2017. The final Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy and Response Procedures were released to the UNBC community on May 18, 2017.

Recommendations

The University of Northern British Columbia took steps to ensure a healthier and safer environment for the UNBC community by announcing a new set of recommendations designed to help the University address the issue of sexual violence on campus.

The first step was to create a steering committee to work with the University’s senior administration team as well as other community members as appropriate regarding the following recommendations.

Determining the Occurrence of Sexual Violence

  • Within a year, UNBC develop a seamless protocol for receiving both confidential and non-confidential disclosures of sexual violence and how to then report that a disclosure has been received.
  • UNBC provide trauma-informed training to university community members who are likely to receive reports of disclosures. 

Identify the Personal and Academic Implications of Sexual Violence

  • UNBC create an accessible environment for initiating disclosures of sexual violence towards students by providing a clearly communicated reporting and support system.
  • Develop protocols for providing reasonable academic accommodations (e.g., academic scheduling, deferrals, etc.) and protocols for providing reasonable student support accommodations (e.g., housing room changes, extended counselling sessions, etc.).

Review of Current Policies and Procedures

  • Utilize UNBC’s “Student Conduct Statement of Principles” procedures to investigate disclosures and where a student’s behaviour is deemed to have breached the policies of student standards of conduct.  Recommendations of any appropriate penalty must follow the procedures outlined in the “Student Conduct Statement of Principles”.
  • The steering committee ensures revisions to the current UNBC “Student Statement on Conduct Principles” policy, and to ensure the current policy will refer out to a new stand-alone policy on sexual violence.
  • The steering committee ensures that UNBC adapts the Ministry’s Sexual Violence Guidelines for the UNBC context, and develops a stand-alone Sexual Violence policy.

Identify Faculty and Staff Responsibilities for Supporting Students

  • Develop and deliver a plan to educate and train UNBC employees on how to provide initial supports for students who make a confidential disclosure, and what actions need to be taken by UNBC employees when the report is provided confidentially.
  • Develop and deliver a plan to educate and train both UNBC students and employees on how to formally report disclosures of sexual violence, or how to support a student in seeking to formally report disclosures of sexual violence.

Review How Reported Cases are Managed

  • UNBC should investigate software that can allow for multiple units to notify a single office when a report of a disclosure has been received, and to track the stages of support and investigations.  A report should be produced outlining the benefits and costs of such software, and recommending UNBC’s next steps.
  • That all UNBC employees who have some responsibility for supporting students who disclose incidents of sexual violence receive and be trained in utilizing communication protocols for responding to all reports.

Identify Educational Strategies for Pro-actively Creating a Nurturing Campus

  • UNBC develop a coordinated, student-centred education risk reduction and prevention program that focuses on empowerment, not fear, and healthy interpersonal relationships for prospective student victims and perpetrators.  Such programming must be research-based, and be accessible to students on all of our campuses.  As an institution of higher learning, the development of a “re-education program” for perpetrators is also critical to a holistic education program.