Warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault.
On February 17, the Sexual Assault Policy (SAP) Working Group released the final draft of the proposed Sexual Assault Policy for McGill, which has been in the works for two years.
Jean Murray, a member of the working group and McGill alumnus, told The Daily that the policy had two aims: “One, make it so that folks who’ve experienced sexual assault don’t have to go to the police, and that doesn’t have to be their only recourse, and two, that there will be institutionalized safety measures in place so that folks can feel safe and comfortable in their community.”
“I’m so happy that they’ve included that survivors should interact only with people who have adequate training on sexual assault,” said Leila*, a student who has experienced sexual assault. “That has definitely not been my experience. The disciplinary officer that I interacted with literally re-traumatized me with her language. I left her office crying.”
“The folks who are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and sexual violence are people of colour, are trans people – specifically trans women of colour – and folks with disabilities.”
The Working Group first convened in 2013 after sexual assault charges against three McGill football players brought attention to the lack of any policy to deal with sexual assault at the university.
Murray explained why the policy took years to develop, saying that the Working Group consulted with numerous student groups in pursuit of a truly intersectional policy.
“We’re largely a working group of mostly white people, almost exclusively able-bodied people,” explained Murray. “The folks who are disproportionately affected by sexual assault and sexual violence are people of colour, are trans people – specifically trans women of colour – and folks with disabilities.”
“We wanted to ensure that the folks who were affected by this most were also the ones who were also having a voice in the creation of the policy, without trying to place too much of the burden of creating this policy on those people,” they added.
Among other suggestions, the SAP proposes creating an office under the Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures & Equity) that would serve as the primary resource for issues regarding sexual assault and be maintained by a full-time Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator.
“I was also never really contacted by the administration about the outcome of my case, so I’m glad the SAP is addressing that,” said Leila.
Though this version of the policy is the final draft, it may still undergo further changes. The policy is currently under review by Dean of Students André Costopoulos and Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures & Equity) Angela Campbell. The Working Group hopes to bring a final version of the policy to Senate later this semester.
“I’m really afraid that the person who sexually assaulted me would harass me after he graduates.”
Leila expressed concern over a perceived disjunction between measures to protect people who have experienced sexual assault, during and after their university career.
“I’m really afraid that the person who sexually assaulted me would harass me after he graduates. There may be a no-contact order on him right now – I actually don’t know because the administration has not been responsive – but what is going to happen after he graduates and he is no longer held up to these measures?” Leila said. “I wish there would be a continuity between the SAP and the police for no-contact measures once perpetrators graduate.”