Posted in News

Student attendance extremely low at open sessions for sexual violence policy

Online feedback still trickling in at a decent amount

Pictured: Jon Driver hosting an open session to nobody. Not pictured: The snacks offered, sitting alone and untouched behind him.
Pictured: Jon Driver hosting an open session to nobody. Not pictured: The snacks offered, sitting alone and untouched behind him.
Image Credits: Nathan Ross

When SFU held a town hall to discuss what the sexual violence and misconduct policy should look like, it was packed full of students and staff would were very vocal about what they want to see from the policy.

About halfway through the open sessions for consultation on the policy across the Burnaby and Surrey campuses, almost no one has attended to ask questions or start a dialogue with those tasked about sexual violence at SFU and what can be done.

“I don’t think we were expecting to get hundreds of people, but we were expecting perhaps to get a couple dozen students,” said Dr. Jon Driver, former VP Academic for SFU and part of policy development group. “I’ve been to at least four or five of these personally, and no students have shown up.

“It has been disappointing,” he added.

The point of the open sessions has been to connect with as many students as possible who have thoughts or concerns regardless the policy and want to influence it while it is being shaped. Over 50 students have given their feedback online, including responses that have come during the times when the open sessions have been available.

“I think initially it was because we hadn’t advertised it very well,” he said. “[But now], we’re not sure why students aren’t taking the opportunity. Obviously it’s midterm time, people are very busy, people are bombarded with information. This may just be something that’s not on the top of people’s priority lists.”

According to Driver, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) has done a wonderful job in helping to promote the sessions once the advisory group realized the lack of advertising. Still, after seeing what can be accomplished in-person after targeted meetings with groups, the potential benefits of the open sessions are just not being taken advantage of.

“We typically start rather slowly, but then it moves into some question and answer, and often moves into a dialogue. We’ve had a number of very good discussions with people that have really almost turned into a seminar,” said Driver. “I think the big opportunity for students if they come to the open sessions is to have that dialogue.”

He went on to say that while it is beneficial for students who are looking to have their concerns addressed and provide input, it is also very valuable to the policy makers.  

The open sessions also come with one more bonus that you cannot get online.

“We were told pretty early on that we have to have food, so we have been providing cookies and chips and so on,” said Driver.

For more information and to find out when you can drop by an open session, visit their website here.

  • peakie

    Hmm. Students don’t think any policy will defend them from their professors and fellow students?
    Or has the campus ecosystem changed, and fewer Anglos mean that they don’t care?
    Maybe the young students are uncomfortable, more uncomfortable that Peak reporters.
    Cases of sexual interference are individual and little is seen as effective punishment for offenders, the latter who laugh it off as a “misunderstanding”

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