Update on sexual violence prevention and diversity and inclusion reviews
The following notice was sent to Mount Allison students, faculty, and staff from the President’s Cabinet on July 29, 2021.
This past year we initiated reviews on two very important subjects for the entire Mount Allison community — sexual violence education, prevention, and support, and diversity and inclusion. I write today to advise that we have received the reports, to note that we have made each of them available on our website, and to outline a number of commitments related to the recommendations.
To begin, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to all members of the Mount Allison community for their involvement in this process; the students, staff, faculty members and researchers brought with them valuable perspectives, and these are reflected in the final reports.
Members of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, co-chaired by Dean of Arts Dr. Vicki St. Pierre and Black Student Advisor and Diversity Educator Ivan Okello; members of the Sexual Violence Prevention Working Group, co-chaired by Dr. Lisa-Dawn Hamilton and Michelle Roy (‘21); and the researchers at CLISSAR were thoughtful, sensitive and diligent in their work.
I equally wish to extend my thanks to members of the Board of Regents’ Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence, those who were consulted by and shared their insights with the reviewers, and those who supported the review processes in other ways.
Independent Review of Mount Allison University’s Practices and Policies Related to Sexualized Violence
In late December 2020, 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, and the final report is a comprehensive examination of Mount Allison policies, practices, and resources. It includes a wide range of recommendations for the University to consider.
Report of the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion
In September 2020, I established the President’s Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. Committee membership included students, staff, and faculty representatives.
The Task Force’s final report is now available.
The recommendations reflect a broad scope of review. They touch on many aspects of student diversity, inclusiveness, equity, and accessibility, as manifested through our policies and administration, education, campus infrastructure and physical accessibility, research and teaching, and student life and health.
Charting a path forward
Each report presents a wide range of recommendations for the University to consider. Charting a path for meaningful change will require a collective effort of reviewing and prioritizing actions.
Prioritizing recommendations and documenting a path forward
Some of the recommendations will be implemented in the near-term, while others require further thought and longer-term planning. Some recommendations may be challenging to implement, exactly as articulated.
Each report also identifies ‘net new’ or re-organized staff roles, or on process changes that, if implemented, may require support from external partners, and/or suggest re-examining current roles and department resources.
We commit to implementing solutions that reflect the spirit of the recommendations, and to maintaining an ongoing, open dialogue with the community.
Inter-relatedness of the recommendations
Each report touches on common areas of concern. For example, recommendations in both reports point out that improvements in sexual violence prevention and support need to be designed keeping the needs of BIPOC and 2SLGBTQIA+ students in mind. As we develop specific action plans, we will pay particular attention to this and other areas of intersectionality.
The reports have been and will remain posted on our website as a public record. I encourage all members of Mount Allison community to take the time to review them.
In order to develop deliberate plans, and to chart our progress, we will need to develop specific ‘Action Plans’ related to each subject and outline specific initiatives to be taken in the near-, mid-, and long-term.
In 2021-22, the University commits to the following:
- We will further review and revise the policies and practices relating to sexual violence prevention and support, as well as those related to diversity and inclusion.
- We commit to adding a full-time support role focused on sexual violence prevention and education. A position description has been developed and is being posted.
- We will ensure that sexual violence education and support makes use of both on-campus and external resources.
- We will design sexual violence support resources with our diverse student body in mind, ensuring they are accessible to all students.
- Beginning in the fall term, the support model will include the following aspects:
- Survivor support and counselling can be provided by MtA counsellors or external providers.
- Consent and bystander training that can be provided to various groups, as identified by both the internal and external report. These may include online and in-person training.
- Investigative services provided by external provider.
- Creation of a Sexual Assault Response Team to assess risk and to inform immediate measures.
- Participating actively in the Government of New Brunswick’s Working Group on Campus Sexual Violence and its mandate to develop a three-year action plan.
- Increasing the amount of educational programming related to sexual violence prevention and diversity and inclusion.
- Training on sexual violence prevention and diversity and inclusion for faculty, staff, and residence staff.
- We will establish, with community participation, a Standing Committee on Student Health, Diversity and Inclusion.
- This body will provide on-campus oversight and advice, help assess and prioritize recommendations, and undertake an annual assessment of improvements related to sexual violence prevention and support as well as diversity and inclusion initiatives.
These commitments are intended as a productive starting point. More importantly, they reflect a larger commitment to undertake meaningful change, each year.
We believe that by engaging the community on a more regular basis through the Standing Committee and through increased education and ongoing dialogue on campus, we will be able to develop a community response for the long term.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Jeffrey J. Hennessy
Provost and Vice President Academic and Research
Vice-President, International and Student Affairs
Vice-President, Finance and Administration
Vice-President, University Advancement