After provincial legislation came into force last month requiring that universities have a policy to address sexual violence, SFU is urging the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) to develop their own policy.

“In terms of jurisdiction, the way our policies are written, [the university] would not have jurisdiction related to spaces owned and operated by the Simon Fraser Student Society,” vice-provost students Tim Rahilly told the SFSS in a presentation at the Board of Governors meeting on June 5.

Rahilly said that he wanted to flag the issue for the SFSS ahead of the completion of the society-owned Student Union Building that is currently under construction.

“We cannot overextend our boundaries from a legal point of view and you as a society […] have a role and a responsibility with respect to the operation of your society,” he noted. Other societies on campus such as the Graduate Student Society also do not fall under the jurisdiction of the policy.

The board discussed the feasibility of adopting the university’s policy, similar to the steps taken by student societies at other universities according to Prab Bassi, vice-president external relations. Rahilly noted that there is certainly the opportunity for the SFSS to take language from SFU’s policy.

However, SFSS chief executive officer Martin Wyant cautioned the board against adopting a policy developed by an external organization.  

“We are not a university, we are a separate society that has our own bylaws and our own policies and procedures,” Wyant told the board. It’s about finding a balance between the university policy and what works best for the society, he said.

Rahilly noted that the university is interested in assisting the society with the development of their policies and may be able to make a contract with societies to handle sexual violence investigations.

“What we don’t want is to have a patchwork on our campus,” he said.

The SFSS has struck a working group to evaluate their options for a sexual violence policy.

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