The following message was sent to Mount Allison students, faculty, staff, and alumni on November 23, 2020.
On Nov. 12, we wrote to the community to advise of a number of actions that will be taken to respond to student and community concerns regarding sexual violence prevention and support. We write today to reiterate the University’s commitment and to report on progress in a number of areas. Thank you for taking the time to review this information.
Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group at Mount Allison
Community members clearly articulated that the University’s planning and response should be informed in large part by the active participation of community voices, particularly those of students.
We are pleased to report that the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group will be co-chaired by Dr. Lisa Dawn Hamilton, faculty member, and Michelle Roy, fifth-year student. We would like to thank both for their commitment and willingness to play a leading role in this effort.
As an immediate priority the co-chairs will consider the composition of the Working Group and the recruitment of additional members to provide a diverse set of perspectives.
The overall mandate and terms of reference for the Working Group will be developed more fully in the coming weeks and once the Working Group can meet as a group. From recent discussions with both co-chairs, several points about the role of the Working Group are worth noting at this time:
- Our co-chairs believe the Working Group should be focused on positive change and developing a more effective framework for sexual violence prevention at Mount Allison.
- They have identified the following as central aspects of their work, as a starting point:
- Campus-wide education and prevention
- Support for survivors and an understanding of survivors as a diverse group
- Handling of harassment and assault cases
The Working Group will have the latitude to develop its own work plan. This may include consultations with other universities; input from students, faculty, and staff; a literature review to uncover best practices; as well as consultation with external groups and/or individuals with experience in the field.
Also, co-chairs have identified that due to the nature of the subject matter, there is a need to make counselling or related supports available to Working Group members who may require them. The University will ensure counselling services are available.
Initiate a third-party review of Mount Allison’s sexual violence prevention model, resources, policies, and procedures
In the past week, and with support from Mount Allison’s Board of Regents and colleagues at other universities, we have reached out to a number of professionals who have experience in this area. Our commitment is to engage a credible organization as soon as possible, ideally before the end of 2020. From there the review would be developed and a timeline established.
We believe the Working Group should have input into the selection of an external reviewer. This will help in the assessment of a reviewer’s proposed approach to this project and also ensure that the terms of reference for the Working Group and the external review are complementary.
As mentioned previously, the external reviewer will be independent and develop its own work plan to consult with students, Mount Allison community members, and other stakeholders. They will be tasked with the preparation and submission of a final report.
Resources focused on sexual violence prevention and response
The University has made a commitment to increase staff resources focused on sexual violence education, prevention, and survivor support. Specifically, we signalled the addition of a new, full-time staff role to support this area.
However, in order to ensure proper scope and alignment of such a role to a new support framework, defining and recruiting for this role should be informed through insights gained from both the Working Group and an external review.
Immediate changes to sexual assault intake and counselling services
In our previous e-mail we noted a counselling service named Crossroads is now the primary point of contact and resource for students, survivors, or anyone who feels they could benefit from counselling support.
Based on feedback we have received this past week, there is a perception that these services are only available to and/or specifically designed for women. To clarify:
- Crossroads is synonymous with the South East Sexual Assault Centre (SESAC). Please note that the first point of contact for any survivor — regardless of gender — who would like to access counselling support is the South East Sexual Assault Centre/ Crossroads. They are one and the same.
- Their services are available for all members of the Mount Allison community and they may be reached 24/7 at 1 844 853 0811. The website has been updated to make this information clearer.
No Contact Orders
Also based on feedback received this week, we have identified and would like to comment on ‘No Contact Orders’ (NCOs), which we understand are perceived as limiting an individual’s ability to seek counselling, guidance, or legal advice from a third party.
We regret this perception and would like to clarify that an NCO does not in any way limit any person’s rights in this regard. If you currently have an NCO based on a prior complaint and have questions or concerns, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for further discussion and assistance.
Advisory Council to the President
Due to the importance of this subject, Dr. Boudreau has assembled and will regularly call on the expertise of fellow University leaders in the form of an Advisory Council. The Council will be chaired by Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial University.
Board of Regents
Mount Allison’s Board of Regents will establish an ad hoc committee on sexual violence prevention, a clear signal that the set of activities we will undertake are of utmost importance to the Board. The ad hoc committee will be chaired by Dr. Jane Craighead, vice-chair of the Board.
Your feedback and opinions matter
As a reminder, individuals are invited to provide feedback about the evolving action plan. We have received many comments thus far. You may continue to share your comments anonymously through the online feedback form.
Jean-Paul Boudreau, President and Vice-Chancellor
Jeff Hennessy, Provost and Vice-President Academic and Research
Anne Comfort, Acting Vice-President International and Student Affairs
Gloria Jollymore, Vice-President University Advancement
Robert Inglis, Vice-President Finance and Administration