At its March 27, 2019, meeting, McGill’s Senate adopted the University’s revised Policy against Sexual Violence. The following day, the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors also voted to adopt the policy. The revised policy, which is now in effect, can be read in full online.
McGill adopted its previous policy, which explicitly denounces sexual violence in all its forms, in 2016. Beginning in October 2018, a Working Group – composed of students, faculty and staff, including representatives from 20 different McGill associations and office – led an in-depth and collaborative process to further the University’s commitment to ensuring our campuses are safe, respectful and inclusive.
The result of the Working Group’s efforts is a survivor-focused policy built on the principles of equity and inclusion. The revisions respond to the needs of the McGill community, and bring the Policy into line with the requirements of Quebec legislation to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions.
Key changes reflected in the revised policy include:
- A centralized reporting procedure, led by Me Caroline Lemay, an independent special investigator appointed in September 2018. McGill is the first Quebec university to appoint an independent, impartial expert who receives and investigates reports and complaints from sexual violence survivors.
- Prohibiting members of teaching staff from entering into romantic or sexual relationships with students over whom they have authority or influence. The Policy sets out the reporting process for, and disciplinary consequences of, such relationships.
- Removing barriers to disclosing acts of sexual violence, to ensure survivors receive full and unequivocal support from the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (OSVRSE). For example, there are now no time limits for reporting acts of sexual violence.
- The implementation of mandatory online sexual violence awareness and prevention training for faculty, staff and students. All members of the University community will be required to complete the training within the 2019-2020 academic year. The Reporter will publish details as the modules roll out in the coming months.
Provost Christopher Manfredi thanks the members of the Working Group for their dedication and hard work, and all members of the McGill community for providing their insights and views through the various consultations held during the year. He believes that the revised Policy against Sexual Violence “makes important strides toward ensuring that our campuses are free of acts of sexual violence, where everyone enjoys safe, respectful and inclusive learning and work environments.”
“Now that the University’s Senate and Board of Governors have adopted the Policy, we can further reinforce prevention, response, and support for survivors of sexual violence,” says Angela Campbell, Associate Provost (Equity & Academic Policies).
Although the revised policy is an important achievement, Prof. Campbell stressed that “this is not the finish line. The Policy will be subject to ongoing review to ensure its continued effectiveness. Furthermore, a standing Implementation Committee will begin its work very soon ensuring that all aspects and commitments of the Policy are fully operationalized.”