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Town halls to be held regarding sexual assault and misconduct at SFU

SFU looking for community input to form new policy

SFU will be having three concurrent town halls on May 31.
SFU will be having three concurrent town halls on May 31.
Image Credits: Kevin Rey

A series of town halls will be held to begin the process of developing a sexual misconduct and assault policy at SFU today.

All three will be taking place concurrently on May 31 from 2–4pm on all three campuses.

Dr. Jon Driver, VP Academic and Provost of SFU, will be overseeing the development of the policy. “We are hearing that there are questions of [how to address] sexual violence and misconduct — universities should respond to these concerns,” he said. “There should be a policy addressing that. A standalone policy signifies that the university takes these concerns seriously, and that those who are affected will know what to do and how to get help.”

Dr. Driver mentioned that university attention is being put on this subject because of the recent incidences of sexual assault that were covered in the media, some of which were on Burnaby Mountain.

Furthermore, the provincial government introduced a bill into the legislature at the end of April that would make it mandatory for post-secondary institutions to have a standalone sexual violence and misconduct policy. Because of that, according to Driver, there is “a growing discussion between students, advocacy groups, and university administrators what the right way to address sexual violence is.”

The Town Hall will be comprised of the following components: an introduction to the process, an overview of what policies SFU currently has in place, and an invitation for people to participate in a variety of ways. As drafts of the policy are made, SFU students, faculty, and staff will have the opportunity to provide input and feedback on them. Participants will also have the option to submit anonymous comments online.

An advisory group is also being formed that will provide feedback on the wording and development of the policy. The group will consist of individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise. Former Simon Fraser Student Society board member Kathleen Yang is one of the members of the advisory group. “The main purpose of the advisory group is to represent the needs of the community as a whole,” she said. “I, personally, am committed to updating students.”

Yang is hopeful about the possible outcomes of this process. “I hope we can take a survivor-centered approach, and that there’s enough presence in the Town Hall to convey to the university that we truly need this policy, as it affects the whole community. I hope we see a transformative message come out of this policy,” she said.