Dear President Runte:
We are writing to you as student, faculty, and staff stakeholders who have been diligently participating in the ongoing consultation process for the development of the university’s stand-alone Sexual Violence Policy.
We are gravely concerned with how most of the university’s representatives have chosen to disengage from this process.
The first all-stakeholders meeting was held on March 23, bringing together students, labour, and university representatives to discuss the first draft of the policy. Immediately, it was clear that there were sharp divides of opinion within the room. In particular, students and union representatives passionately argued for a policy that acknowledges rape culture and that is survivor-centric, whereas most university representatives were completely opposed to these being included. It was a very difficult and emotional discussion for everyone.
More disappointing, however, was that when students and unions returned to the next meeting on April 11 to continue the discussion, we discovered that most university representatives had decided to boycott the process. These university representatives had apparently decided that they did not want to talk to us, and yet they still expected their own opinions to be considered and given a vote (these were submitted ahead of time).
It is extraordinarily disrespectful that these representatives of the university have decided that they are above talking to representatives of students and unions, which include front-line support workers and survivors of sexual violence. Our opinions—based on years of experience and work on the issue—have apparently been deemed unworthy. Instead of engaging in difficult conversations, these university representatives would rather walk away.
These actions by university representatives are beyond offensive because they suggest that the collaborative process we entered into a year ago was simply window-dressing, and that the university has no desire to truly engage the community in the development of this policy. We know that they have far more power over the process and the outcome; they have the luxury of walking away and can still expect to have a veto over the final draft of the policy. Students and unions do not have that luxury; if we disengage, we further disenfranchise ourselves from a process in which we are already marginalized.
It is critical that Carleton University adopts a strong Sexual Violence Policy that meets the needs of everyone in the community, and especially survivors. This is only possible when everyone is at the table and prepared to engage in honest dialogue. Most importantly, it requires that students, faculty, and staff are treated with respect, and that their own experiences and expertise is acknowledged. We are calling on you to compel the representatives of Carleton University back to the table, to ensure that the process can continue with integrity.
Dr. Dawn Moore, Equity Chair, Carleton University Academic Staff Association
Lauren Montgomery, Women’s Caucus Chair, CUPE 4600
Leigh-Ann Worrell & Shannon Mulligan, Sexual Assault Outreach Coordinators, Graduate Students’ Association
Michael Bueckert, President, Graduate Students’ Association
Maddie Adams, Vice President Student Issues, Carleton University Students’ Association
Kevin Partridge, President, CUPE 4600
Pam Griffin-Hody, President, CUPE 2424
Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre