After months of planning, the members of the committee to develop UFV’s sexual violence and misconduct policy have been determined.
The committee, officially called the Sexualized Violence Policy Advisory Team, will work to create a sexual violence and misconduct policy, as mandated by Bill 23, the province’s Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act.
“This is the group that will help us put together a first draft that we can then get out to a broader audience, our goal being to reach as many people as possible to get feedback,” vice president students Jody Gordon, who is co-chairing the committee, said. “But we need something to go out. This group will be responsible for that.”
Student Union Society (SUS) president Sukhi Brar will be co-chairing the committee along with Gordon.
“We talked about the importance of having the university, as well as the Student Union Society, sit equally at the table,” Gordon explained.
The team includes 13 other members of the UFV community, four of those being students. While it is uncommon for most committees to have so many student members, Gordon and Brar saw it as necessary, especially seeing as the policy is directly related to students.
“There are a few students that are on here and they’re all bringing their own perspective into it,” Brar said. “I know they’re going to being bringing differing perspectives as students that’ll help this process.”
Brar also noted that the team includes students who aren’t involved with SUS. This includes various other student groups on campus, including the Pride Collective.
“I think it’s good that we’re reaching out to students outside of SUS,” she said. “It’s nice to have that perspective from people that aren’t as involved in legislation or reading policies. Sometimes they might bring a perspective that might be missed.”
Aside from students, the team will also include members of UFV International, the counselling department, the Peer Resource and Leadership Centre, the college of arts, the visual arts department, the kinesiology department, and even the school of social work, which could lead to policy work being included in courses within the department.
“Lucki Kang comes out of the school of social work and is field coordinator there, but she also will bring the connection to the social work students,” Gordon explained. “That’s a group that she’s offered to maybe have them do some work on this for the course and get them involved because this is work that they will do in the community, being in the social work arena.”
Gordon also noted that there are plans to hold public meetings for members of the UFV community to add their input to the policy as well.
“Once we get confident that we have somewhat of a draft, we need something to show people to garner feedback and to create conversation so people can talk about aspects,” Gordon said. “That’s not mandated by the legislation, but we have the right to do that, so getting that feedback from folks will be important.”
Brar and Gordon’s goal was to have a large variety of departments within UFV represented on the committee, and Gordon noted that finding the members was easier than she anticipated.
“A number of people reached out to me or to Sukhi and said, ‘If you need help, I’d be willing to lend whatever knowledge and expertise I have,’” she said. “Some people actually came to us and volunteered and some were obvious choices, given where they sit in the Student Union or in terms of their role.”
The committee has not yet had their first meeting but is planning to do so by the end of the month. Going forward, the team will be meeting monthly, with the tentative goal of having a draft of the policy ready for feedback in February and ready for approval from the Board of Governors in spring of next year.