Since the Board of Governors has approved the new Sexualized Violence Policy the implementation process has been slow. With Jordan Roberts who started on August 9 as the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer (SVPRO) it seems like the policy will finally start being implemented and students will become more familiar with what this means for them.
In March 2018, the province of Nova Scotia had the first read of Bill N.83, also known as The Safer Universities and College Act. In it, it states that “Each university and college shall adopt a sexual violence policy within six months of the coming into force of this Act.” By the end of those 6 months, King’s released their own policy.
“I can tell you that the Sexualized Violence Policy at King’s is the way it is because of students,” said Levi Clarkson, President of the King’s Student Union (KSU).
Clarkson was a student representative on the Sexualized Violence Policy Committee. “Students worked extremely hard on this policy,” said Clarkson, “even writing portions of it themselves. The aim was for the policy to be survivor-centric and trauma-informed, and I think that is apparent in the policy – though I am excited to see how the policy will improve when it undergoes its year-end review.”
Originally the position of SVPRO was going to be given to the current Equity Officer, which is already a full time HR-job out of the Bursaries Office. When students heard about this, they rallied to demande a full-time job for the position. The hiring of the SVPRO is a huge win for students as a whole. Especially for those who have worked hard to advocate for the position. “Students need and deserve dedicated support from a qualified person whose area of expertise is sexualized violence,” said Clarkson. The University will also be hiring a student to assist Roberts.
Clarkson said that for this academic year, our focus as a community should be to help Roberts make the new SVPRO position as effective as possible. So far, Roberts has been working with staff, faculty and students, organizing workshops and trainings. “Part of the SVPRO’s responsibility is sexualized violence education and prevention on campus,” said Clarkson, “I expect we will begin to see some programming around this soon.” She has also been working very closely with the Implementation Committee. In the spring of 2020, the policy will be revised by the Committee and any changes that are needed will be made.
The Implementation Committee consists of Clarkson, three other students, two professors, the Dean of Students and the Vice President. “We receive monthly reports from the SVPRO and discuss ongoing concerns – as well as doing work on the ground to hear what students are saying and to advocate for student needs.” The KSU will continue to provide consent culture programming. They are currently working on a grant proposal in order to hire a group of students that would run it. Clarkson said, “We know that students have been at the forefront of building consent culture on university campuses, and we want to continue to recognize and facilitate that important work.”
The University was under criticism last year, with concerns that it did not address the incident in the Wardroom quickly enough. The initial implementation of the policy was also criticized as not being specific enough for King’s. The mood this year however is seemingly optimistic, with positive changes being made by both the University and the community. “One of the most important things right now is that the University be held accountable during the initial stages of implementing the policy,” said Clarkson, “and that the University shows through its actions that it is committed to a survivor-centric and trauma-informed framework.”