Brock’s new Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy is the latest University initiative to define and deliver a firm and dedicated stance against sexual violence and harassment.
Approved by the Board of Trustees at its most recent meeting, the policy took effect Dec. 1 and commits to providing services and supports for survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence.
The new policy is one of several major moves the University has made this year as part of ongoing improvements to protecting personal security and wellness. In the spring, the Human Rights Task Force was established by then-president Jack Lightstone, with a mandate to review all of Brock’s policies and procedures that deal with sexual harassment, sexual violence and unprofessional behaviour.
Also this year, the Human Rights & Equity office was separated from the University’s administration to become an independent entity reporting directly to the Board of Trustees. It represents a resource providing all Brock community members with information, education, assistance and advice around issues related to human rights harassment and discrimination.
During the summer, the newly-independent Human Rights & Equity office created the new staff position of Sexual Violence Response and Education Coordinator. In September that role was filled when Allison Cadwallader joined Brock, having done similar support and education work at the University of Windsor and the Sarnia Sexual Assault Survivors Centre.
The newly adopted policy promotes a safe and inclusive environment, reinforcing Brock’s commitment that no form of sexual violence will be condoned, tolerated or ignored. It applies to all forms of sexual violence, including sexual assault and harassment, and applies to students, staff, faculty, volunteers, visitors and members of the Board of Trustees.
The new policy was developed with significant consultation with the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, student groups and other stakeholders at Brock. It outlines the reporting process for victims and survivors of sexual violence, and provides information on accommodations and supports available through the Human Rights & Equity office.
“We heard from a diverse group of students, staff and faculty on the draft and implementation of the policy,” says Alana Sharpe, Brock’s Human Rights and Equity Advisor. “The policy is a living document, and we will continue our consultations in 2017 to ensure the policy is effective and accessible.”
Sharpe says anyone who wants to be involved in the consultation process can join or attend the Sexual Violence Prevention Committee to provide feedback.
Survivors and victims will be supported through the process by Cadwallader.
A key part of her role is to work with survivors, co-ordinating supports and accommodations best suited to the individual.
“You aren’t alone in this,” says Cadwallader. “You are believed and deserving of support. The first step is reaching out.”
Anyone who has been affected by sexual violence does not need to make a formal report to gain access to accommodations and support services. Informal disclosures of sexual violence made to the Human Rights & Equity office will initiate the support process.