New Brunswick

UNB brings in 'survivor-centered' approach for sexual assault reports

A task force, advocate, and annual report are some of the things the UNB sexual assault policy has introduced.

Task force created to enforce new sexual assault policy at UNB

The sexual assault policy introduces a task force to make sure the policy is followed correctly. (Stephanie Sirois/CBC)

A new sexual assault policy released on Thursday has changed the way sexual assaults are reported and handled on the University of New Brunswick campus.

The policy includes clear ways for victims to report, a new sexual assault advocate, and new sexual assault response teams to provide assistance to anyone who has experienced a sexual assault on campus.

A task force will meet twice a year, and oversee any reports of sexual violence and release an annual statistical report to the public and the university.

The policy was worked on for over two years with input from the community, reports from other universities and feedback from students.

Before, sexual assaults or violence on campus were addressed using both the UNB Student Disciplinary Code and the UNB Policy on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment.

Lorraine Whalley, the executive director of the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre, said a clear sexual assault policy will encourage more reporting. (CBC)
Lorraine Whalley is the executive director of the Fredericton Sexual Assault Centre.

She said the fact that universities like St. Thomas University and UNB took the time to research and ask for input on their sexual assault policies was positive.

"Numbers will be reported, so that we'll be able to have a more accurate reflection of reports or of incidents of sexual assault that are brought forward," said Whalley. "It's important to have information about incidents because then we can work on the best response possible."

Priority is on victims and survivors

The "response of a survivor-centered approach" was one of the best things to come out of the policy, Whalley said.

"It's going to hopefully respond to that and ensure that when victims and survivors come forward that they will have a space and place to have their needs met and to have their voices heard," she said.

Shirley Cleave contributed to the drafting of the new policy. (CBC)
Shirley Cleave, UNB's associate vice-president of Learning Environment, was one of the policy contributors on the committee who helped with the drafting.

"There are real people involved, there are real experiences involved, people are strongly affected by experiences of sexual assault," said Cleave.

Different ways provided to file a sexual assault complaint

The policy gives the task force power to decide appropriate responses to reports of sexual assault or violence made, such as suspension or removal from campus.

"We certainly would act properly if there was a risk to anyone on campus and trespass notices are certainly an option," said Cleave.

Students who decide to file a complaint have different options in order to do so.

They can file a formal complaint either with the Fredericton Police Force or Campus Security, who may press charges, depending on a case-by-case basis.

The student can also privately speak with a UNB counsellor, advocate, nurse or physician.

Any student filing a Formal Internal Complaint can withdraw their complaint at any time.

"That will be left to the discretion of the person making the complaint, because the nature of the response needs to be driven by the needs of the person that's been negatively affected," said Cleave.