On January 22, UNB sent an email to students announcing the establishment of the UNB Sexual Assault Policy Review Committee. 

This follows the many accusations of failure by the university to protect its students and prevent incidents of sexual assault on campus, which resulted in social media outrage and a protest in the fall semester. This protest saw discussion of sexual violence committed against, and by, students and staff, and condemned the lack of support and preventative measures taken by the university. 

“The events that were brought to our attention prior to the holidays illustrate the complexities associated with sexual violence in a university context,” stated the email. “The review [of the sexual assault policy] will be comprehensive and undertaken over several months.”

The review is being chaired by Dr. Cathy Holtmann, director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Center for Family Violence Research (MMFC). The MMFC is dedicated to “collaborative action-oriented research” of violence against women and children and family violence.

The first meeting of the review committee was held in the first week of February, and UNB estimates that the results of this review will be reported in the Fall 2021 semester.

Following the events of the fall semester, Melissa Ghanem, who held the position of Interim VP Advocacy, explained that the UNBSU was disappointed with UNB’s response to the movement against sexual violence. 

“We feel that students need to be heard,” she explained, “and their institution needs to give them more information now than ever. It’s essential at this point that they feel like they can trust UNB.”

The UNBSU is staying involved in this conversation with Grace Pelkey, UNBSU Vice President Internal, sitting on this policy review committee and Tea Fazio, UNBSU Vice President Advocacy, sitting on the tri-campus committee overseeing the review. 

Sexual Violence New Brunswick will be providing online training to faculty and staff of UNB, STU, and NBCC as part of the tri-campus sexual violence strategy. This training aims to help faculty and staff to deal with disclosures of sexual violence and understand how to provide support.