Six months after the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support policy was passed by the Board of Governors, Simon Fraser University welcomes Dr. CJ Rowe as the inaugural director of SFU’s Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office (SVO).
Rowe will begin their role as director on in October of this year. Prior to commencing their role at SFU, Rowe has obtained extensive experience in both post-secondary institutes and on the ground pertaining to sexual violence prevention.
“They’re an academic so they’ve done academic research on this topic. They also come from Qmunity [a non-profit organization for LGBTQ/2S individuals] where they were the executive director, so they have a really great understanding of how we can work with community organizations as well,” said Erin Biddlecombe, director of operations, planning, and projects. “They’re seen as a leader in Canada around this work.”
In addition, Rowe, who uses the pronoun they, has an academic background in sociology, women’s studies, legal studies, and education.
Even though Rowe hasn’t begun their work term yet, “the services and programs are open now [and] they will [continue] the minute they get here,” noted Nancy Johnston, vice-provost, students and international.
Moreover, the SVO doesn’t have its own office space yet. “We’re hoping it will be announced before the end of this calendar year,” said Johnston.
Originally, the committee wanted the new SVO office to open in fall 2017, but was delayed because they wanted “to get [Rowe’s] perspective and their experience and expertise on what the centre should look like and where it might be,” explained Johnston. “We felt strongly that Rowe ought to have [a] voice in this [matter as well]. So this will allow Rowe to give us their best understanding of where these kinds of centres [should be].”
However, what is certain is that the SVO and its services will be held primarily at the Burnaby campus. However, students and members of the SFU community can still get support from the office, regardless of which SFU campus they’re requesting aid from.
The point is that “you don’t have to go to the physical place. The people of the place can come to you,” said Peter Keller, vice-president academic.
As for the name of the office, where the words ‘sexual violence’ could be a trigger for sexual violence survivors, Biddlecombe explained that when the policy was created, the Central Resource Office was only a temporary name for the unit.
“The name ‘Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office’ came through consultations with the community, students, staff, and faculty around the [purpose] of the centre and making sure it was a name that worked for our community so people would understand what they could get from that office,” said Biddlecombe.
Moreover, some of the services currently offered by the office are prevention support programs where SVO staff educate students and faculty members about topics related to sexual violence.
“We do training around consent, we do training around responding to disclosures and sexual violence on campus. We also provide training around what we call ‘being an active bystander’: so if you see something happening on campus that you don’t feel comfortable with, [you know] how [to] safely intervene to prevent something from happening,” explained Biddlecombe.
Biddlecombe added that when Rowe arrives, “one of [their] priorities will be [to] bolster the strategy that already exist[s] around education prevention on campus, being mindful that we’ve got different community groups on campus,” said Biddlecombe.
Rowe will work together with staff, faculties, and students on implementing sexual prevention strategies at SFU in their role as the office’s inaugural director.