Concordia Takes Action to Protect Survivors of Sexual Violence on Campus

Amendments to Code of Rights and Responsibilities, Updates from Board of Governors

  • Amendments to the Code of Rights and Responsibilities further protects survivors of sexual violence on campus. Archive Photo Laura Lalonde

Additions made to Concordia’s Code of Rights and Responsibilities at a Board of Governors meeting on April 19 enables the university to further protect survivors of sexual violence on campus.

The code explains that in cases when the safety or well-being of a member of the Concordia community is at risk, temporary measures may be taken to ensure their security. A non-contact order, which would prevent the accused from contacting the person in question, was offered as an example of one of these measures.

Additionally, if the accused is found guilty after a hearing, they can be subject to “restricted access conditions” while on campus or attending university events. These could include non-contact and non-communication orders, restricted access to the university, and time restrictions.

“This, of course, is in the scenario that this person would not be expelled or suspended because of the circumstances,” said Melodie Sullivan, the university’s senior legal counsel, at the meeting. “But it gives the [Hearing] Panel another option in their toolbox of ways to manage behaviour and sanctions on campus.”

Other amendments to the Code of Rights and Responsibility include rendering all of the language in it gender-neutral, and aligning the terminology used within the code to that used in the sexual violence policy which the university adopted last year, based off recommendations from the Sexual Assault Policy Review Working Group.

Sullivan explained that the last time the Code was amended significantly was in 2010.

The New Normal

During the meeting, Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis, the Concordia Student Union General Coordinator and undergraduate representative on the Board, asked again if an increased security presence is the new normal for Board of Governor meetings.

Marshall-Kiparissis said that on her way to the meeting, there was more security than normal, and that an exclusive elevator was going to the fourth floor of the GM building, where the meeting was held. This, she explained, was similar to the precautions taken at last month’s BoG meeting, which took place one week after a bomb threat was sent to the university.

Concordia President Alan Shepard said a decision has yet to be made as to how to proceed for future BoG meetings. Chair of the Board, Norman Hébert Jr., said that his priority is the group’s safety and that increased security “may not be required in the future, [it’s] just something we’ll look at meeting-by-meeting.”

Terry Wilkings, former CSU General Coordinator and undergraduate representative, said he had trouble coming up to that day’s meeting due to the increased security presence, and that it is a dangerous precedent to set.

“It just seems like once you open this door, it’s difficult to close, and I think that should be considered,” Wilkings said.

Other members of the Board, including Hébert, expressed that they still felt residual concerns from the Dec. 14 meeting which was protested by students who were against an increase in tuition for international students in deregulated programs. Due to the protest, the meeting had been moved and was not lived streamed. The motion, in the end, did not pass.

“Some days there’s nothing contentious, some days there are, and that’s fine, and protests are okay, that’s fine,” said Hébert. “But I did not appreciate not being able to have our Board meeting the way we should have had it in December.”

“In perfect world, I could just walk through with my badge and board my airplane like I used to, but I can’t do that anymore,” he continued. “But I hear you,” he said to Wilkings.

Ensuring Student Safety

Wilkings also asked Shepard how he planned to ensure student safety after Link photo editor Brian Lapuz was assaulted by a police officer while covering a demonstration on campus on March 25, resulting in a broken tooth.

This, Shepard said, was news to him. While he said he was on campus that morning because of the police presence, he also said immediately after that he “didn’t know that the police were here,” and that this was the first he was hearing of the assault.

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