UNB unveils policy to address sexual assault on campus
Published Monday, October 3, 2016 8:11PM ADT
Universities across Canada have been implementing sexual assault policies, acknowledging assaults do, and have, occurred on many campuses.
The University of New Brunswick unveiled its sexual assault policy in June and on Monday, the university revealed it is going even further, hiring two people who will work on campus to support victims of assault.
Now if an incident takes place, a student knows exactly who to go to for help.
“My role is really in supporting anyone who's been impacted by sexual violence in receiving any accommodations they might need, the crisis intervention or therapeutic support,” says campus sexual assault support advocate Maggie Forsythe. “Anything that would really help them feel safer and more empowered on campus."
The support advocates will be there for students at UNB Fredericton, as well as St. Thomas University and NBCC. Another advocate has also been hired for UNB Saint John.
If a student comes to them, Forsythe assures they will be believed.
"What is it you need? How can we best support you? How can we help you stay here on campus and continue your goals here and start by that place, that we believe that this happened," says Forsythe.
UNB says it has been working on a sexual assault policy for two years. The policy covers not just sexual assault but also any kind of harassment or abuse, either verbal or physical.
"I know people who have been personally affected by sexual violence," says Katie Beers of UNB Students’ Union. "One is too many here at UNB and we don't accept it as a part of our culture, but we know that it is."
Other universities across the country are now reaching out to UNB for guidelines on what they can do on their campuses.
"There are a lot of really excellent policies across the country at different universities. Some of them are actually quite brief. We wanted to put together something that was comprehensive," says UNB Fredericton VP Academic George MacLean.
St. Thomas University released its policy last September and Mount Allison University has had a sexual harassment policy since the mid-nineties, but has updated it since.
The Universite de Moncton does not have a policy on sexual assault, though the school does have one on harassment.
UNB says the policy will be reviewed every four years.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.