Update on sexual violence prevention action plans
Nov. 1, 2021
Actions undertaken during the summer and start of academic year
- Online training in the areas of bystander, consent, and sexual violence prevention was made available to all students, offered in partnership with Sexual Violence New Brunswick and the ACAA.
- Additional in-person sessions were held for student-athletes and those holding residence leadership positions. This education was provided by the co-chair of the University’s Sexual Violence Working Group, Dr. Lisa-Dawn Hamilton, who has professional expertise in this area.
- The University entered into partnerships with three local counselling offices to help provide support for BIPOC and LGBTQ students, with MASU health insurance facilitating the coverage of the costs for students who seek an external counsellor.
- Counsellors in the Wellness Centre are trauma-informed and trained and will continue to be the main points of intake and disclosures in the near term.
- The Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group provided the President with its recommendations.
- A poster campaign on the subject of consent was distributed across campus and in residences. This was supported on social media.
New decisions and upcoming initiatives
Cabinet has reviewed the report of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group as well as the CLISSAR report and prioritized the following commitments.
Ongoing planning and oversight: community engagement
- A new Vice-President’s Advising Committee on Sexual Violence Prevention has been established, replacing the Working Group, and will meet on a weekly basis. Membership includes students, faculty, and staff. The group’s terms of references along with Committee members’ names will be posted on the website soon.
- A President’s Standing Committee on Sexual Violence, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion will also be created. Plans for committee membership will be worked out during the fall term, but will also include students, faculty, staff, and Board of Regents' representation.
Staffing and training for sexual violence prevention/survivor support
- Dr. Tasia Alexopoulos has been hired as the new Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Co-ordinator (announced Oct. 21). Dr. Alexopoulos's role will focus on education, prevention, policy and process, reporting, and regular communication to the community.
- An additional role (also full-time) will be posted before the end of the fall term. This role will focus on survivor support and intake.
- In addition to these roles, more funding will be provided to both the Indigenous Affairs office and Black Student Advisor and Diversity Educator office, to support tailored programming for sexual violence education, prevention, and support.
- Information around current supports and procedures can be found at: https://mta.ca/current-students/health-and-wellness/sexual-violence-referral-and-reporting
- We are establishing mandatory sexual violence education for all faculty and staff. This will require several training sessions each; the first such opportunity is being scheduled for November 2021 and will be delivered by SVNB.
- We will establish mandatory training for all first–year students. The format of this education will be developed in the coming months and will most likely be in the form of an online non-credit course with in-person elements, required course taking place during the start of the fall term.
- Ongoing training for RAs, student-leaders and student-athletes will also be undertaken annually.
Policy and process
- A review of existing policies and processes will be a priority and will be led by the Sexual Violence Education and Prevention Co-ordinator. This effort will be given all the support it needs by the University and will consider all CLISSAR policy recommendations, especially those related to survivor disclosures, options for informal and formal resolution, and enhanced processes for immediate measures.
- The limitation period for the disclosure of an assault will be removed from the procedures, as will any requirement for non-disclosure agreements that limit the support a survivor can receive.
- The University has entered into a retainer agreement for the services of an experienced, independent investigator, when required. The individual will undertake their work at arm’s length from the University. This will enable more complete investigation of formal complaints and provide staff members responsible for the resolution of complaints with the independence to do so.
July 29, 2021 — Independent review recommendations
The Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) was engaged by the University to form an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to provide recommendations on improving the University’s policies and procedures in response to disclosures and reports of sexual violence.
CLISSAR’s recommendations were informed by the work of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group. The final report is a comprehensive examination of Mount Allison policies, practices, and resources and includes a wide range of recommendations for the University to consider.
- Independent Review of Mount Allison University’s Practices and Policies Related to Sexualized Violence (pdf)
- Community update — July 29, 2021 (includes information on University commitments and next steps)
Feb. 26, 2021 — Community consultation
The Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) has been undertaking detailed community consultation as part of their review process. CLISSAR representatives have met or have meetings scheduled with a variety of groups on campus, including the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group, Rose Campaign executive members, MASU, the Wellness Centre, and Student Life/ Residence Life.
Additional feedback opportunities have now been scheduled for late next week:
Two sessions will be held on Friday, March 5: one from 1-2 p.m. and the other from 2:15-3:15 p.m.
Faculty and staff session
A session is scheduled on Thursday, March 4 from 3:30-4:40 p.m.
Any individual who is interested in participating in one of these sessions is advised to contact Lucrèce O'Neal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lucrèce will be able to provide you with a link to the Teams meeting.
If you are unable to attend one of the times above but would consider participating at a later date, please contact Lucrèce. Depending on the level of interest, additional feedback opportunities may be added.
In addition, any member of the Mount Allison community, whether student, faculty, or staff, may provide feedback to CCLISAR directly at any time. CCLISAR has created a dedicated, confidential e-mail account specifically for this purpose. E-mail MountAllison@cclisar.ca to share your thoughts.
Feb. 18, 2021 — Update on the independent review
The University has engaged the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a comprehensive independent review of policies and practices related to sexual violence prevention, support, and education at Mount Allison. A detailed update of the terms of reference, review timeline and methodology, upcoming community consultation opportunities, and consultant profiles is now available in the independent review section below.
To date, CCLISAR has been reviewing Mount Allison's sexual violence policies, procedures and background documentation. The next phase of their review, continuing through the end of March, will focus on community consultation.
Consultation sessions with representatives from Mount Allison community:
- To date, CCLISAR has met with representatives of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group, MASU, the Wellness Centre, and Student Life/Residence Life.
- Additional discussions are being arranged for March 2 and 5 with a range of student, faculty, and staff participants reflecting diverse perspectives.
Any member of the Mount Allison community, whether student, faculty, or staff, may provide feedback to CCLISAR directly:
- CCLISAR has set up a dedicated e-mail account for this purpose: MountAllison@cclisar.ca.
- All comments e-mailed to CCLISAR will be treated confidentially.
As a reminder, the review process will be completed in June, at which time CCLISAR will submit their final report, including recommendations, to the University not later than June 30, 2021. CCLISAR's report will be made public.
Jan. 25, 2021 — Action Plan upate
Building on earlier updates, the following information provides a more detailed look at the action plans that have been implemented and are now underway. As a general goal, the work of all the groups referenced below will take place in the winter term, with final recommendations brought forward to the President and Cabinet in May/June. Each group will be developing their own work schedule and timeline within this overall timeline.
Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group
This internal group is co-chaired by Dr. Lisa Dawn Hamilton and Michelle Roy, a fifth year graduating student. Membership on the working group has now been established and includes the following individuals.
MEMBERS OF THE SEXUAL VIOLENCE PREVENTION WORKING GROUP
Faculty & staff representatives
- Krista Johnston, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies and Canadian studies
- Anne Comfort, vice-president, international and student affairs (acting)
- Pierre Arsenault, director of athletics and recreation
- Kira Bubar
- Hannah Hawkes
- Moeka Irikura
- Ania Kolbuszewska
- Rohin Minocha-McKenney (MASU representative)
- Graeme Stevens
Student members of the Working Group represent a cross-section of the student body, with students from second to fifth year who study in Arts, Commerce, Social Sciences, and Science.
The Working Group's main areas of focus are assessment and recommendations regarding:
- campus-wide education and prevention
- the survivor support system
- how the University handles and adjudicates harassment and assault cases
The Working Group will call upon a wide range of consultants with different experience and backgrounds on the subject and will reach out to students and staff for input.
Contact the Working Group: email@example.com
Independent review of University policies and procedures responding to sexual violence
Following a search process, the University has selected the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a comprehensive review of our sexual violence policies, procedures, practices, and resources.
CCLISAR is a respected consulting firm that has experience working with universities in the area of sexual violence prevention and support.
CCLISAR specializes in:
- the development of effective legal responses to sexual assault
- identifying barriers and perceived barriers to reporting sexual assault presented by the legal system
- designing effective mechanisms and frameworks for adjudicating claims of sexual violence
Key aspects of their terms of reference include:
- the development of a comprehensive report that summarizes the review process
- an overview of the information gathered (in anonymized form)
- providing recommendations to the University for improved policies and procedures and survivor supports
CCLISAR's review process will feature:
- The creation of a three-person external Independent Review Panel (IRP) comprised of a practising lawyer with expertise in gender-based harm and university-specific complaints, along with two other individuals with legal expertise in responses to sexual violence.
- The IRP will undertake a document review of all relevant University policies and procedures, as well as documents and policies that may intersect with policies dealing specifically with sexual violence (as examples, collective agreements and student code(s) of conduct).
- Consultations with members of the University community during February and March. The opportunity to participate in consultation with and provide feedback to the IRP will be advertised in due course to students, staff, faculty, groups, and other interested stakeholders.
The output of the IRP’s document review and consultations will then be assessed by means of an Expert Advisory Group (EAG), whose purpose is to review and assess draft recommendations for the University.
The Expert Advisory Group will be comprised of:
- the three-person Independent Review Panel
- two additional members selected by CCLISAR and who are external to the University
- the co-chairs of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group
- up to five additional members of the Mount Allison community, selected by the University
The EAG’s work is expected to take place in April/ May.
A final report will then be prepared by the IRP and submitted to the University not later than June 30, 2021. The final report will be public.
Board of Regents Ad Hoc Committee
The University’s Board of Regents has established an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence.
Regent members include:
- Dr. Jane Craighead (chair)
- Brandon Blakney
- Cheryl Hodder
- Susan MacIsaac
- Dr. Odette Snow
- Dr. Andrew Wilson
- Lisa Yarmochuk
The Ad Hoc Committee’s mandate includes:
- monitoring the University’s progress toward assessment and prevention of sexual violence
- reviewing recommendations submitted to the University
- advocating to the full Board for appropriate resources to implement improvements to education, prevention, policies and procedures, and survivor support strategies, based on recommendations submitted to the University
Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) Ad Hoc Sexual Violence Committee
The MASU will undertake its own initiative in preventing sexual violence on campus and dismantling systemic issues associated with rape culture within our community.
This group’s focus will be on:
- reviewing existing University services that address sexual violence and reporting mechanisms
- reviewing the University's implementation of the recommendations made by the 2018 Rape Culture Working Group
- staying up-to-date on the work of the University’s Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group
- recommending new reporting measures
- encouraging training on sexual violence for sports teams, clubs and societies, and residence leaders to be expanded
- keeping the University accountable on promised changes
MASU councillors-at-large Rohin Minocha-McKenney and Erica Nowlan will co-chair the Committee. In addition, Rohin Minocha-McKenney will also be a member of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group.
- Nov. 23, 2020 — Update with respect to sexual violence prevention and support
- Nov. 12, 2020 — Responding to sexual violence prevention concerns
The Independent Review Panel (IRP) provided a final report (pdf) to Mount Allison on June 30, 2021. The information below outlines the process undertaken to conduct the independent review.
Following a search process, the University selected the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a comprehensive review of our sexual violence policies, procedures, practices and resources.
CCLISAR is a respected and experienced consulting firm that has experience working with universities in the area of sexual violence prevention and support.
The updates and content below are provided by the Independent Review Panel and CLLISAR and are posted here for the benefit and convenience of the Mount Allison community.
Updates from the Independent Review Panel
Feb. 18, 2021
We are pleased to introduce ourselves as the Independent Review Panel (IRP) tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of the University’s sexual violence policies, procedures, practices, and resources. Our review will include consideration of the ways in which the structure or implementation of the University’s sexual violence policies and procedures may have fallen short of their purposes in the past, with a view to implementing change in the future. If you want to learn more about us, brief biographies can be found below.
We are working with the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR www.cclisar.ca), which Mount Allison has engaged to undertake this review.
At the end of the review process, our recommendations will be publicly available and published on CCLISAR’s website.
Consultations — February and March 2021
Central to our review process is hearing from you.
We will be hosting Zoom consultations in the months of February and March 2021. The consultations will include interviews with individuals and groups at MtA, including representatives of student groups, members of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group, staff of the University departments that respond to sexual violence, faculty members, and unions.
We will also ensure that interested individuals, whether students, staff, or faculty, will have an opportunity to speak with us. Lucrèce O’Neal (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be co-ordinating a sign-up process for this purpose. Please e-mail her if you wish to meet with us.
We also encourage University community members to provide us with thoughts and comments by e-mail at MountAllison@cclisar.ca. The e-mail communications will be treated in confidence.
Since the focus of our review is on improving institutional practices and procedures for responding to disclosures and reports of sexual violence on campus, we have specific consultation questions related to the policies and procedures. Examples of some of the questions that we may be exploring are listed below.
Two of the meeting dates on which we will be holding consultations are March 2 and 5, 2021.
Following the consultations, the Panel members will consider what we have heard, and prepare a preliminary report with recommendations. This preliminary discussion document will be discussed with an “Expert Advisory Group” comprised of the panel members, external experts, and a small group of persons from Mount Allison, including the co-chairs of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group.
The timeline for the Independent Review is as follows:
- January/February 2021 — review of policies, procedures, and other documents and gathering of preliminary background information
- February/March 2021 — consultations with the MtA community, held by Zoom
- April/May 2021 — development of preliminary recommendations for review and discussion by the Expert Advisory Group
- June 2021 — publication of the IRP Report
We very much look forward to meeting with MtA community members in the coming weeks.
Yours very truly,
Sample consultation areas/questions
Sample areas and questions on which we will be seeking the input of the University community members consulted
Dynamics of sexual violence at Mount Allison
- We are interested in hearing your perspectives on the what/where/by whom of sexual violence on campus (e.g. dynamics in residence or at certain events).
Barriers to Disclosure or Reporting that relate to institutional policies, procedures, structures at MtA
- We recognize that there are many barriers to disclosing or reporting sexual violence in our society. We would like to hear about any specific barriers to report related to the MtA policy, procedure, or institutional structures or responses.
- Are there policy/procedure specific issues as they relate to specific social locations or identities, such as sexual orientation, race, indigeneity, ability, etc.?
Accommodations, Informal Resolution, and Interim measures following a disclosure or report of sexual assault
- What are MtA’s community members’ views on MtA’s use of accommodations, informal resolution and/or interim measures in response to disclosures of sexual violence?
- Do informal resolutions and/or interim measures address complainants’ needs and circumstances? Are they fair to respondents?
- To what extent are or should interim measures or information resolutions be confidential?
- Are mutual no-contact orders imposed? What has been the effect of those orders?
Training, Investigation and Adjudication
- What areas of concern have been identified with the investigation and hearing (adjudication) of reports of sexual violence? We are interested in hearing all views, and including the views of those who have made a report, responded to a report, supported a complainant/respondent, or investigated/adjudicated such a report.
- What training is provided to investigators, adjudicators, or others who administer the sexual violence policy?
Understanding of the Policies and Procedures
- Is there a good understanding by students, staff, or faculty of the Sexual Violence Policy and Procedure? If there is a lack of knowledge, confusion, or misunderstandings, why is this the case and how can this best be corrected?
- What should be the range of appropriate sanctions/remedies for sexual violence?
- What are community members’ views on the remedy or measures for respondents of residence-transfer, counselling or education, and alcohol prohibition, in cases involving student-on-student sexual violence?
- A challenge for all universities is the institution’s obligation under privacy laws to maintain confidentiality of identities of the parties and any measures imposed on respondents. These legal obligations may prevent universities from making public the outcomes in sexual violence cases and from identifying perpetrators. What are MtA community members’ views on how to address the sometimes competing goals of institutional transparency and accountability with respect for individual privacy?
The above represents a few of the areas of questions that we will be exploring when we are on campus. We are, of course, open to other issues and areas being identified by you and we will raise questions that are specific to each group consulted.
Terms of reference
Terms of reference for independent review of Mount Allison University’s policies and procedures responding to sexualized violence
Mount Allison University (the “University”) will engage the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR) to conduct a comprehensive review of the University’s sexual violence policies, procedures, practices and resources.
Scope of review
This review will assess the implementation of the University’s sexual violence policy and procedures, along with other University policies and procedures with which they intersect, in order to ensure that the University has effective and defensible practices and procedures that are:
- responsive to those who report experiences of sexual harm
- procedurally fair to complainants and respondents
The review will consider policies and procedures as they relate to both students and staff/faculty. The review will include consideration of the ways in which the structure or implementation of the University’s resources, policies and procedures may have fallen short of their purposes in the past, with a view to implementing change in the future. The Independent Review Panel that undertakes the review will produce a report that will summarize the review process undertaken and the information gathered (in anonymized form) and make recommendations aimed at improving the University’s response to incidents of sexualized violence within its community. This report will be public.
Description of the review process
The review process will involve four stages.
Stage 1. An Independent Review Panel (IRP) will conduct a document review of the University’s relevant policies and procedures as well as any other documentation and materials provided by the University or requested by the IRP (e.g. collective agreements, University communications, anonymized sample case files). This stage of the review will also include a review of other university policies on sexualized violence and relevant secondary literature and reports.
Stage 2. The IRP will conduct consultations with members of the University community. These consultations will be conducted during a three-day period in February and March, 2021 and will be done virtually. The focus of these consultations will be on the operation of the University’s Sexual Violence Policy and any policies with which it intersects. The consultations will include meetings with any individual members of the University community, as well as any groups (e.g. departments, clubs, or other organizations) who express an interest in meeting with the IRP. The University will manage the scheduling and coordination of the consultation meetings.
The opportunity to participate in this consultation will be advertised by the University and meeting times will be made available to any students, staff, or faculty or other interested stakeholders who wish to participate. The President’s Working Group on Sexual Violence (“Working Group”) will be involved in identifying the persons and groups consulted by the IRP. In addition, bi-monthly meetings will be held by the IRP Chair and the co-Chairs of the Working Group to ensure there is no duplication in the Working Group’s consultations with the IRP consultations.
The University community will also be invited, during the months of January, February and March 2021, to provide confidential written input to the IRP. The IRP will use an @cclisar.ca e-mail address for the IRP Chair for the purpose of receiving comments and information regarding the operation of the University’s Sexual Violence Policy and any policies with which it intersects. This e-mail account and its intended purpose will be advertised by the University in January and February 2021.
Any comments, observations, or insights offered during these consultations or in writing will remain unattributed in CCLISAR’s report. The IRP’s notes, emails received through the IRP’s designated e-mail account, and internal correspondence between members of the IRP will not be produced to the University or made public.
Stage 3. A background document identifying the areas of concern and/or improvement with the University’s policies and procedures along with possible measures to address these areas of concern and/or improvement will be circulated to the Expert Advisory Group, as defined below. This group will meet for a one-day online workshop to discuss the issues reviewed and proposed recommendations in the background document. The meeting shall take place in the spring of 2021. The Expert Advisory Group will provide advice to the IRP, including as informed by the Working Group’s expertise on the University and the University’s student body.
Stage 4. The IRP will finalize its report and will provide it to the University in June 2021.
Composition of the Independent Review Panel
The Independent Review Panel will be comprised of three individuals external to the University. The Chair of the IRP will be a practicing lawyer with expertise in gender-based harm and university-related complaints processes. The second and third members of the IRP will include individuals with legal training and expertise in legal responses to sexualized violence. At least one of these members will be a legal academic. The other will be either an academic or practicing lawyer.
Composition of the Expert Advisory Group
The Expert Advisory Group (EAG) will be comprised of the three panel members of the IRP, two additional members selected by CCLISAR who are external to the University, the co-chairs of the President’s Working Group on Sexual Violence and up to five additional members of the Mount Allison University community, selected by the University. Members of the EAG from the Mount Allison community will have relevant experience in university complaints processes and/or legal processes for responding to sexualized violence (e.g. adjudication or investigation) and/or expertise regarding issues of gender-based harm. The Chair of the IRP will also chair the EAG.
The Expert Advisory Group will provide advice to the IRP on the proposed recommendations.
|June 30, 2021||
Independent Review Panel — member bios
Joanna Birenbaum is a litigator in Toronto with over two decades of expertise in gender equality and sexual violence. Her diverse practice in these areas includes constitutional litigation, civil sexual assault claims, employment law, human rights and workplace investigations, representing complainants in sexual history applications in criminal sex assault proceedings, defending malicious prosecution and defamation claims targeting women who have reported sexual violence, and Supreme Court of Canada appellate advocacy. Joanna also prosecutes for a regulated health college in Ontario and advises institutions and employers on sexual violence policies and procedures. Joanna was a 2014-2015 McMurtry Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School and adjunct faculty at Osgoode (2014-2017). In addition to her private practice, Joanna is the Director of Capacity Building for CCLISAR (Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Law Response). Joanna has published in the area of sexual violence including her most recent book, co-authored with Professor Karen Busby, “Achieving Fairness: A Guide to Campus Sexual Violence Complaints” published by Thomson Reuters (March 2020).
Elaine Craig is an Associate Professor of Law at Dalhousie University. She has researched and published extensively on sexual assault law in Canada. Dr. Craig is the author of Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession (2018 McGill-Queens) and Troubling Sex: Towards a Legal Theory of Sexual Integrity (2012, UBC Press). Dr. Craig teaches sexual assault law, gender, sexuality and law, and constitutional law. She has testified before Senate and House of Commons Standing Committees on proposed law reforms to the criminal law of sexual offences and is a regular public commentator on legal responses to sexualized violence. Dr. Craig is the Director of Research for CCLISAR (Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Law Response).
Myrna McCallum is an Indigenous lawyer and the host of "The Trauma-Informed Lawyer" Podcast. Myrna educates on trauma informed advocacy, vicarious trauma and Indigenous intergenerational trauma through keynotes, training sessions, and customized executive coaching sessions. Prior to founding Miyo Pimatisiwin Legal Services in 2020, Myrna’s extensive experience in sexual violence includes her positions as Director of Investigations at the University of British Columbia, adjudicator in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement claims process, and Crown Prosecutor with the Ministry of the Attorney General in Saskatchewan. When she is not FaceTiming her three grandchildren, educating or podcasting, Myrna is advising, advocating or conducting workplace investigations and reviews. In 2020, the Federal Department of Justice awarded Myrna their first ever Excellence in Legal Practice and Victim Support Award. You can learn more about Myrna’s work in trauma-informed lawyering at https://thetraumainformedlawyer.simplecast.com/
Independent review report
The Independent Review Panel (IRP) provided a final report to Mount Allison on June 30, 2021.
Recommendations were informed by the work of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group. The report is a comprehensive examination of Mount Allison policies, practices, and resources and includes a wide range of recommendations for the University to consider.