At the November 29 General Faculties Council meeting, around 40 GFC members — primarily student members — walked out in support of survivors of sexual violence, causing the meeting to be adjourned until December.
The General Faculties Council (GFC) is responsible for the academic and student affairs of the University, including administrators, professors, students, librarians, and academic and non-academic staff. A walkout is unparalleled in recent memory.
This unprecedented show of solidarity reinforced the urgency of the Joint Letter on Sexual Violence Prevention and Response. The joint letter was signed by the Student’s Union (UASU), the Graduate Students' Association (GSA), the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA), and 20 student representative organizations. The letter urges the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA) and the U of A to support survivors and address sexual violence in ten specific ways.
President Ley explained that the goal of the walkout was “to reinforce the seriousness of our demands and to show GFC that this space needs to be safe for survivors.” This action follows multiple UASU calls (links here, here, and here) for greater prevention measures, raising serious concerns about reporting mechanisms, accountability for those in positions of power, support for survivors, opaque investigation procedures, and safe participation in University governance.
In the hours since the walkout, over 500 students, staff, GFC members, instructors, administrators, Deans, and alumni have signed a petition in support of the joint letter's ten demands. The first 500 signatures are available here. The petition includes options to keep signatories' full or last names private if they are not in a position to sign openly (e.g. for employment reasons). Students are grateful that so many members of the University community understand the necessity of creating a safe and equitable learning environment.
If you need to talk to someone and are safe to do so, you can call, text, or chat the Alberta One Line for Sexual Violence at 1-866-403-8000. Please also consider the many resources available through the Sexual Assault Centre's Virtual Resource Hub.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact:
External Relations Specialist