As requested by the University of Alberta Students' Union (UASU), the University of Alberta has released an audit of policies and practices around preventing and responding to sexual violence. The audit report validates years of student concerns.
"Last November's joint letter demanded ten overdue reforms," said President Abner Monteiro. "The audit report confirms the importance of those demands, but only commits to fix half of them. I hope the new Provost and Sexual Violence Response Coordinator use this report to set the University on a better path."
The Board of Governors privately commissioned this audit in response to advocacy and direct action by the UASU, student members of the General Faculties Council, and other student representatives. In response to a freedom of information request from the UASU, the University confirmed that the audit report existed and committed to release it.
In the report, the administration aims to significantly improve consent and sexual violence prevention/response training, much of it mandatory, across the University community. The University is also overhauling and modernizing all policies and procedures surrounding sexual violence prevention and response. These major reforms stem from student advocacy to the University and to the provincial government over the last several years.
Alarmingly, the current report does not commit to:
- Addressing persistent problems with the Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA) collective agreement,
- Making policy change regarding instructor/student relationships,
- Making all relevant resources available in French for students at Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ), or,
- Providing vital in-person support for Augustana students.
Neither CSJ nor Augustana is mentioned in the report.
Since the report's text is not searchable, the UASU has created a searchable version for ease of reference.
“We expect,” clarifies Joannie Fogue, VP Student Life, “that with continued advocacy and collaboration with the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator Deb Eerkes, the University will take equal care of our sister campuses. CSJ and Augustana can’t be left behind, and neither can staff represented by AASUA. All three must be properly onboarded, resourced and supported by the University in the fight against gender based sexual violence. The next steps are clearly laid out.”
Table: Student Asks vs. Audit Commitments
|JOINT LETTER DEMAND||AUDIT||REPORT COMMITMENTS|
|1) Reform reporting/investigation in AASUA collective agreement||Confirmed problem (p.7)||None|
|2) Reform disciplinary record erasure in AASUA collective agreement||Confirmed problem (p.7)||None|
|3) Hiring Sexual Violence Response Coordinator||Confirmed as needed throughout||Hired - report offers road map for future work|
|4) Create or improve training for all students and staff in residence||Confirmed as needed (p.10)||Reviewing and improving training, possible funding (p.11)|
|5) Stronger ethical standards for relationships and sexual interactions between faculty and students, especially their own students||Confirmed problem (pp.12-13)||Limited commitment to reviewing documents (p.13)|
|6) Mandatory consent/SV training for instructors, staff, students||Confirmed as needed (p.10)||Commitment to mandatory training (p.11)|
|7) Harmonize policies around sexual violence||Confirmed as needed throughout||In progress as required by government due to student advocacy (p.3)|
|8) Institution-wide restorative justice options with staff training, including at CSJ and Augustana||Confirmed as needed (p. 14), no mention of CSJ or Augustana||Commitment to explore; no mention of CSJ or Augustana, but Disclosure Support Network should include staff from all campuses (p.9)|
|9) Ensure all SV prevention and response resources are available in French and designed for CSJ students||Not addressed in audit||None|
|10) In-person SV prevention and response resources at Augustana||Not addressed in audit||None|
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.