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(L-A Benoit / The McGill Tribune)

Draft Policy against Sexual Violence discussed at McGill Senate

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On Oct. 19, McGill Senate convened to discuss the proposed Draft Policy against Sexual Violence as well as the relocation of the McGill bookstore, Le James. In addition, the Senate Committee on Physical Development offered their Annual Report.

Draft Policy against Sexual Violence

The Draft Policy against Sexual Violence was first released by the university on Sept. 12. Since then, the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), Christopher Manfredi, has been receiving feedback from the McGill community through their online form. To date, there have been 175 responses to the policy draft, according to Manfredi.

Manfredi reaffirmed his commitment to instate the Policy against Sexual Violence by the end of the calendar year. Manfredi stated that additional resources are required for successful implementation of the policy. McGill plans to hire support staff to accompany current Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction) Bianca Tétrault.

“I am pleased that we have […] put in place the process to hire a second person to support our work against sexual violence at the university as well as secure an office space […] that will provide a greater level of accessibility and confidentiality,” Manfredi said. “We hope to have that person in place certainly before the end of the calendar year.”

Manfredi thanked the Sexual Assault Policy Working Group and other student initiatives for providing the foundation on which the Draft Policy was created. After receiving feedback from community members, the Office of the Provost compiled a list of proposed changes to the policy draft. These revisions are an example of how the policy could change before it is voted on at the next Senate meeting on Nov. 23.

Arts Senator John Galaty asked about the choice of terminology in the draft policy and requested clarification on the definition of sexual violence, especially when investigating instances of sexual misconduct. Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) Angela Campbell explained that the policy seeks to emphasize an institutional commitment to sexual violence survivors. The policy does not, however, address punitive measures that can be taken against perpetrators.

“This is actually about whether or not someone has lived an experience that they find very difficult, [that has] an impact on their well-being, their academic potential to success, and our commitment to ensuring that they can come forward and secure services in the context of social services and health services,” Campbell said. “This policy is about separating out prevention, education, response, and support. It does not touch on the issue of disciplinary investigation and adjudication.”

Question on relocation of the McGill Bookstore

Students’ Society of McGill (SSMU) Vice-President University Affairs Erin Sobat and Law Senator Shannon Snow asked the Senate about the accessibility of the new location of the bookstore, Le James.

“The question was put forth after I was approached by several law students,” Snow said. “I worry that the accessibility of the layout, the organization, the building itself, is an issue for students.”

With narrow aisles between the bookshelves and the reduced proximity to campus, Snow asked if there would be opportunities to expand on home deliveries for students.  

“The space on Parc Avenue is quite constrained […],” Morty Yalovsky, Interim Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) said.  “[In] terms of how the space was structured, it was set up that way to optimize the number of books that could be stored there. Though, we’re open to changes.”

The current lease at the Avenue du Parc location will last for two years.

Senate Committee on Physical Development

Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities Management and Ancillary Services) Robert Couvrette presented the annual report from the Senate Committee on Physical Development. With a variety of long-term and short-term goals for building and campus renovations, the committee sought to prioritize academic services

“We receive around $46 million per year for […] renovations and anything like that […],” Couvrette said. “The amount of money is quite fixed for the next five years [….] There is no additional funding from our government.”

As one of the lowest ranked Quebec institutions in terms of infrastructure, McGill will have difficulty improving its buildings without additional funding from the province.

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