Discussing students’ disapproval and how to make campus a place that focuses on harm reduction.
For several months now, members of the Mt. A community have been waiting for university administrators to implement a revised Sexualized Violence Policy. Policy 1006 has been effective since 2016. Some members of the Mt. A community explain that this policy is outdated. Hannah MacIntosh, a third-year biology student, says that “it does not contain the proper, adequate, or necessary information and resources to deal with ongoing situations pertaining to sexualized violence in and around campus.” An anonymous source says that the University has had the updated policy since May. MacIntosh says that “it should have been put into effect long before we welcomed new and returning students to campus.” She added that this is unacceptable seeing as “half of all the annual reported cases of sexualized violence occur during the first six to eight weeks of the school year.”
Tasia Alexopoulos, Mt. A’s sexual violence education and prevention coordinator, explains how Policy 1006 lists offices and past resources such as S.H.A.R.E that no longer exist. For a couple of years now, the University has not had an official policy procedure to respond to sexualized violence on campus. Alexopoulos, along with a group of dedicated individuals, worked hard on revising Policy 1006, which now pays close attention to the current resources within the Mt. A community. Alexopoulos says that a lot of research was put into creating the new policy, and that it was created “from scratch.” Alexopoulos emphasizes the importance of the policy and its power to “hold the university accountable.”
All policies must be approved by the Board of Regents, whose first meeting was on September 16, 2022, but Alexopoulos is unsure if they have received the updated policy or whether it was on their meeting agenda.
With Mt. A’s homecoming weekend quickly approaching, students are increasingly vulnerable to experiencing sexualized violence. “We all know that it comes with excessive alcohol and drug use, as well as a ton of extra bodies in Sackville. Those are all factors that will increase the risk of sexualized violence,” MacIntosh explains.
MacIntosh, along with Sara-Ann Strong, created a petition urging the University to implement the policy. The petition has been circling on social media and has already received over 400 signatures.
In November 2020, hundreds of Mt. A students attended a sexual violence protest on campus. The protest was prompted in response to Michelle Roy sharing her story of sexual violence on campus and how the university fails to support survivors and victims of sexualized violence. This led to hundreds of women, and some men, coming forward with their stories.
MacIntosh explains that no piece of paper by itself can keep people safe. “The policy might just be one small piece of harms prevention and reduction on campus, but I believe it is a very important one.” She emphasizes the need for a caring community that works together to keep each other safe. On top of implementing the policy, MacIntosh suggests that the University should provide adequate resources to groups who are the most vulnerable in terms of sexualized violence, along with creating a consent culture on campus that goes beyond asking for consent during sexual acts.
“I’d love if one day we just had the education and prevention part of Sexualized Violence Prevention, Education, and Response, and that having to respond to cases were things of the past. But that is going to take a whole lot of work and everyone’s collective attention, participation, and willingness to change and adapt together,” says MacIntosh.