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THE LINK

“It’s not enough to hire someone. I don’t think, in terms of services for survivors, it will have a huge impact” —Jennifer Drummond

only reason I got into that room was not as someone who had worked with survivors but as an incoming student executive.” A QUESTION OF DISTRIBUTION The Minister of Higher Education said that to combat sexual violence on campus, the Quebec Government will invest 23 million among all post-secondary institutions, over five years, in the province. This includes CEGEPs as well as universities. There are questions about how the funds will be distributed. Sutherland and Mushtaq agree that allocation should “be done in consultation with stakeholders and individuals at the universities, including survivors.” She reiterated that these discussions should acknowledge the specific circumstances of each institution, be that student population, their biggest concerns, and what loopholes exist in policies. “We don’t really know what the 23 million is going towards right now, and it would be good to have a breakdown and see what exactly it is that is going to be required of universities,” said Spencer. The province has yet to detail how the money will be distributed. It’s unknown whether it will be allocated equally or based on need. Some institutions, like McGill and Concordia, already have resources cenT HEL INK NE W SPA P ER .C A

tres, student groups, and policies based around prevention and support. To distribute money evenly would “ignore some of the realities of where each group is at,” noted Sutherland. “Funds should be distributed to reflect that.” “We’re lucky as a large researchbased institution to have those kinds of resources available,” explained Spencer. “But in regional universities That funding from the province could be what decides whether or not they even have staff dedicated to dealing with sexual violence on campus.“ If divided equally among the more than 70 public colleges and universities in the province, funding could be less than 63,800 annually per institution. But the CSU executives think assessments could help, along with looking at what tactics have worked at Concordia and McGill, and how they could be applied or revamped at other schools. Spencer said the numbers don’t look so bad on paper, but it’s hardly enough for university centres that support themselves already, let alone “big enough to make a difference in the regional universities for actually creating support systems that don’t yet exist.” Drummond suggested that the funds could potentially go towards research projects, campaigns, or even creating online workshop modules. “But it’s not enough to hire someone,” she said. Until last year, Drummond was the SARC’s only full-time staff member. “I don’t think, in terms of services for survivors, it will have a huge impact.” UNIVERSITY POLICY HOLES At Concordia, Sutherland and Mushtaq are worried about loopholes. “It’s often the case that there is little recourse within the university or legal context, depending on the loopholes that exist in policy. It’s extremely important that these processes be survivor-centric,” said Sutherland. Concordia’s Sexual Assault Policy came into effect in May 2016, and McGill’s in November 2016 after student groups disputed the policy for not doing enough. Concordia’s administration has shown support Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre, most notably with the relocation of the centre itself, from what was once an unmarked office

on the third floor of the GM building to a sunny and spacious multi-room office on the sixth floor of the Hall. Similarly, Spencer said McGill’s policy also needs some work. “The main problem is that it’s a standalone policy, and relies on the Code of Student Conduct to implement any disciplinary measures,” meaning you cannot pursue a complaint against a faculty or staff member through that policy. “The first sentence of the policy says that ‘This applies to all Members of the University.’ That’s a lie,” she continued. Additionally, she explained that those disciplining in accordance to McGill’s code aren’t trained for dealing with sexual violence. “They are trained to discipline people for plagiarism.” Concordia’s policies are better in some ways, said Mushtaq, “but there is always room for growth and improvement, especially when vulnerabilities are concerned.” She continued, “We’re talking about people who are informing the policies, and with each voice that is added, it will amplify that.” She advocates for approaches that are inclusive of trauma and people’s individual experiences, hoping that the results from there can “only get better.” A TOP-DOWN APPROACH For Spencer, the main issue with the policy making is the “top-down approach” that Quebec has taken to addressing sexual assault on campus. She suggests that, depending on what is stated in the forthcoming law later on, a new set of consultations can be launched. “Specifically with students and survivors, making sure that those voices are heard when they critique what is supposed to influence their everyday lives on campuses.” She also worries that the government might attempt to impose new and under-funded structures, as opposed to supporting networks that already exist by means of student leadership. “In the face of administration not taking care of its students, often students step up, and you find that on every campus Why not instead fund the structures that have already been created out of a need of a community? That’s something I would like to see.”

Volume 38, Issue 3  
Volume 38, Issue 3  
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