SFU’s Academic Women discuss sexual violence policies

In light of recent controversies surrounding sexual assault, SFU is working to develop better sexual assault policies.

Although the administration has been criticized for its alleged lack of response to sexual assault allegations, organizations at the school have been uniting to work towards this common goal. On September 13, SFU’s Academic Women organized a talk with the Ending Violence Association (EVA) to discuss how to create a proactive way to deal with sexual assault on campus.

The university has previously held a series of Town Halls to work on this goal, complete with an advisory committee.

The main speaker, Tracey Porteous, is the executive director of EVA BC. Porteous has been fighting to end gender-based violence for decades.

In her talk, Porteous argued that victims of sexual violence have the right to be outraged, as reports have shown that assaults are almost always premeditated.

When creating effective sexual assault policies, Porteous stressed the need for university leadership

When asked what sparked her passion for change on this issue, Porteous revealed that she too is a survivor of sexual assault.

EVA has been working with schools and groups all over the province to develop action plans to prevent sexual assault, as well as the policies and resources to effectively deal with the aftermath.

When creating effective sexual assault policies, Porteous stressed the need for unwavering leadership which, she argued, SFU administration has not provided.

SFU’s sexual assault policy reads: “All forms of sexual violence jeopardize the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of our students and our employees, as well as the safety of the community. Sexual violence violates our institutional values, in particular, the right of all individuals to be treated with dignity and respect. SFU will not condone or tolerate any form of sexual violence.”

Porteous argued that all members of the SFU community should be involved in the making of these policies, including Residence Life coordinators, all ResLife and Housing employees, as well as professors, security employees, and university president Andrew Petter. She recommended that “all Simon Fraser employees be cross-sector trained in responding to assault.” Porteous stated that it is “common to lack the literacy or language” when someone discloses an assault.

The EVA offers educational seminars to schools and organizations regarding consent, giving students the tools to stand up for each other and recognize when a situation is dangerous. 

Porteous stressed that just one of these solutions isn’t enough. It must be a comprehensive compilation of education, prevention, and leadership. She noted that SFU currently has the ear of its students and staff on this issue in a way it hasn’t ever before.