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UNB criticized for lagging on sexual assault policy

Recently UNB has been under fire for its lack of a clear sexual assault policy. Despite promising that a policy would be implemented “as soon as possible,” the university is now saying that this policy will not be completed until spring 2016.

Rice Fuller, director of Student Services at UNB, is aware of the recent negative comments about the delay. The policy has been under development for sometime, and has taken a bit longer to prepare than Fuller had said last January.

“We are fully committed to developing the best policy possible and this will take time, longer than I optimistically suggested in a CBC interview back in January of this year. It should be clear to everybody that this is not a race to see who can produce their policy first,” Fuller said.

“We are currently in the process of developing UNB’s stand-alone sexual assault policy … a stand-alone sexual assault policy is only one part of a thorough response to the problem of sexual assaults on university campuses.”

It can be difficult to understand the complexity of such a policy that will be in effect on both UNB Fredericton and UNB Saint John campuses. To have an effective, comprehensive policy is something that can’t be done overnight.

“To judge UNB’s current efforts solely based upon whether we have a stand-alone sexual assault policy is misguided and an over-simplification of a complex issue,” said Fuller.

Although there has been some impatience surrounding this topic, UNB is not alone in this issue.

“Many schools in Canada don’t have a sexual assault policy, and the ones that do have a varying definition of what exactly sexual assault is,” said Katie Davey, president of the UNBSU.

“So that is definitely something that I think needs to be rectified. Not only do I think that all university campuses should have one, but again, the definition should be the same. UNB is in the process of developing a policy, so it’s on the way. ”

She continued by saying, “I think that having this policy in place would ensure not only the safety of our students but it would ensure that our students kind of feel comfortable on campus and feel like they have the ability to seek justice within the university setting.”

At this time, UNB has a preliminary draft of the standalone sexual assault policy. This draft was based off the recommendation of many different sources.

“We have also reviewed sexual assault policies from colleges and universities in the U.S. and from the few post-secondary institutions in Canada that have them,” said Fuller.

Next representatives of the UNBSU and the Students’ Representative Council in Saint John will sit down to develop a policy draft that is satisfying and comfortable for all parties involved.

“The Student Union is working closely to the administration to urge them to get this policy going and in place, sooner rather than later. Our goal is to keep our students safe, and we think that this is a way to do that,” said Davey.

The draft will then be circulated through the UNB community for feedback. This will then lead to a final policy that will go to management and the Board of Governors for approval.

Although UNB does not yet have a sexual assault policy in action, it is not ignored in the university’s disciplinary code and other policies.

“Acts of sexual violence are currently covered under both the UNB Student Disciplinary Code and the UNB policy on Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Harassment,” Fuller said.

“In addition, we have well-trained counselors, and work collaboratively with The Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Center, the Fredericton Police Force, the Health authority and others when incidents are reported to us. Our first priority is always and will always continue to be our students.”

Along with these initiatives, more than six hundred students, including all varsity athletes, proctors and dons, house committee members and orientation leaders have received training by a program called Bringing in the Bystander.

The program has been identified in the White House Task Force report as the most promising in terms of engaging both men and women in an effort to change the campus culture regarding sexual violence.

Although STU was also without a sexual assault policy, they announced the implementation of their last week.

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