GBC releases stand-alone Sexual Assault Policy

Student input leads to sexual assault policy with less jargon and more inclusive language

Committee members (left to right) Karen Thomson, Dale Hall and Gerard Hayes address concerns about the new Sexual Assault Policy at the consultation with students on March 18. Photo Dora Liu/The Dialog

Committee members (left to right) Karen Thomson, Dale Hall and Gerard Hayes address concerns about the new Sexual Assault Policy at the consultation with students on March 18. Photo Dora Liu/The Dialog

The long-awaited stand-alone GBC Sexual Assault Policy was released on March 31. Based on the Colleges Ontario Sexual Assault Framework, the finalized policy reinforced its content, especially in related terms’ definitions and diversity coverage, to make it up-to-date and appropriate to students’ needs.

Biko Beauttah, the Student Association’s (SA) women and trans people representative, says she is satisfied with the policy, “I feel like it’s amazing that our school has this inclusive policy.”

The SA’s LGBTQ representative elect, Murray Rowe, said, “I am pleased with where the policy is now but I also recognize there are areas of improvement.” Rowe said he is concerned with the lack of the services referenced in the policy for LGBTQ students.

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You make your own choices
You have the right to put your case into a formal or informal complaint. You can withdraw your complaint at any time, and you can decide to send your complaint to the police, have GBC deal with it, or both.

You can report to anyone
According to the policy, you can talk to your teacher, a security guard, a counsellor, or any staff in the school who will walk you to a human rights advisor who will work with you and support you for whatever you need to help you feel safe and comfortable.

30-day investigation promise
A formal written complaint is under a 30-working-days investigation timeline and a set of procedures. It makes sure all the formal complaints follow the same procedure.

You can appeal
If you are dissatisfied with the decision from the formal complaint, you are able to appeal it. The appeal process can start with your academic chair, dean or associate-dean.

It may not affect your academic schedule
Depending on the nature of the complaint and the investigation, the human rights advisor and your chair will work with the academic department to put in place any interim measures necessary to alleviate your academic pressures.
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Before the finalization of the policy, the committee for the policy held a consultation on March 18, to hear students’ opinions.

Louise Boileau, a support staff at the SA’s Community Action Centre (CAC) and Samantha Brown, the aboriginal representative for the SA, both pointed out that there was too much jargon in the policy and the protections for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities were insufficient.

“The language is now more accessible, which is good. (And) they added trans, genderqueer and variant to the policy,” said Brown. “But looking it over, it still lacks what the college can and will do when the complaint is made.”

Brown says the actions that the college can take, in the policy, are broad and unspecific.

“For example, if the student feels unsafe in the halls, they can get an escort to walk with them in the halls and bathrooms,” said Brown. “I want to see what the college is willing to do for the safety of the students.”

“When someone discloses that they have experienced sexual assault or sexual violence, that person will have one contact who will work with them directly to co-ordinate all the necessary steps needed to ensure all the necessary supports,” says Dale Hall, George Brown’s human rights advisor to the president as well as one of the case managers of the policy. “The individual may need counselling, a safety plan on campus, academic accommodations if needed, and to explain what options are available should the person wish to pursue an internal complaint or to speak with Metro Police.”

Hall said that students can report to anyone at the college be they security, a faculty member, a human rights advisor or anybody on the frontline. The student will then be walked to their campus human rights advisor who will help them with the support they need. If the campus human rights advisor isn’t available there will be an alternate contact person posted and the student also has the option to go to counselling or security.

Karen Thomson, vice-president of marketing and strategic enrolment management, said at the consultation that the policy is subject to change at any time, and that, “we will keep on listening and polish the policy.”

“It’s just the beginning, not the end,” said Hall.

GBC’s Sexual Assault Policy and Protocol can be accessed at georgebrown.ca.

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GBC releases stand-alone Sexual Assault Policy