This letter was written to the Daily December 4, 2022, and reflects the state of OSVRSE at that time. Since the letter was initially written, its services have partially reopened.
OSVRSE, a McGill service, supposedly “provides support for members of the McGill community who have been impacted by sexual violence,” only, for months now, the office has been staffless, which means that no survivors have been supported by the so-called “survivor-friendly” McGill.
The administration has made their apathy for women and survivors clear by 1) not immediately acting on this and 2) not being transparent with people seeking support that OSVRSE was non-functional.
To maintain their image as a “survivor-friendly” university, they tried to hide the fact that OSVRSE was not functional, keeping the website and the booking system open. They did not make the McGill community aware of OSVRSE’s status until today’s vague email. Further, they did not make stakeholders like the Union for Gender Empowerment, Queer McGill, or the Legal Clinic that cater to gender minorities and women who are more likely to experience sexual violence that OSVRSE was closed. This means that we wrongfully directed numerous survivors seeking mental health support to OSVRSE. I found out the service was not functional by directing a student who needed support to it, which is devastating and unacceptable.
While they kept the reporting system open through the Office for Mediation and Reporting and delegated it to the dean of students office (who, to their credit, did a good job at dealing with cases), for months, survivors were left with no psychological support from their university, which left many feeling hopeless and resourceless.
Their handling of OSVRSE is not an exception in services provided by McGill but an established pattern by the administration which underfunds OSD, the Wellness Hub, and services that offer psychological and physical support to McGill students. In fact, Grassroots initiatives like the Trans Patient Union, which advocates for better treatment at the wellness hub for Trans and Non-Binary patients or the McGill Neurodivergent Self-Advocacy Collective, which advocates for a more Neurodivergent-accessible university, were created because of the enormous gap in the care and support that is offered by McGill’s Wellness Hub and Student Accessibility and Achievement. We are tired of fighting for our rights and dealing with an administration desensitized to its students’ needs. The administration should be ashamed that students need to rally and advocate for better standards of care for themselves.
The administration’s neglect of McGill Offices signals that they do not care about us. While they refuse to invest in our future and wellness, McGill is eager to invest 65.7 million dollars in fossil fuel industries and millions in corporations violating humanitarian rights, making it clear that McGill is a corporation that does not care about its students but rather cares for its stakeholders and its public image.
McGill needs to be held accountable. The student body, survivors, women, and gender minorities deserve answers. How did this happen, and what will they do to prevent it from happening again? Prove that we are wrong and invest in robust services supporting the students you claim to want to help.