On December 1, 2016, the Carleton University Board of Governors voted to approve the Sexual Violence Policy without amendments. Three students voted against approval, including myself and undergraduate representatives Greg Owens and Fahd Alhattab.
Regrettably, the voices of community groups were silenced from the Board meeting. Students, staff, and faculty who had been working on the policy, and who had specific requests for further changes, had made requests to address the Board but had all been denied. This meant that they were not able to respond to the university’s comments about their recommendations, which were all rejected. The blinds were closed so that the Board could not even see the community members who were demonstrating outside the building. However, two Board members who had apparently been appointed to “follow” the process were allowed to give their general comments about how they felt it had gone.
When I raised the absence of these community members as a problem, acknowledging that I am not an expert and I do not and can not speak for every person and organization in the community, I was mocked by the Vice-Chair, who responded “If you feel that you cannot speak for all students, then why are you on the Board?” At this point I was so taken aback that I had to temporarily remove myself from the room.
Notably, there was no intention from the Board or administration to even entertain the possibility of amendments. It was repeatedly stated that this is the best possible policy and we simply need to adopt it. When undergraduate representative Fahd Alhattab attempted to make an amendment that would allow for an earlier review of the policy, the floor was not even opened to allow someone to second the motion. Instead, the Past Chair of the Board interjected and proceeded to call the question, closing debate for good.
Finally, students and other community members who were demonstrating outside the building were met with a significant security presence. In a video of the demonstration filmed by Jenna Amirault (embedded below), a man who is yelling and aggressively pushing students out of the building is identified as the Director of University Safety, who is one of the individuals who will be on the Sexual Violence Review Committee adjudicating complaints of sexual violence.
The result is that we have a Sexual Violence Policy that belongs to university administration, and that does not have the support of the campus community.
If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduate Student Representative on the Carleton University Board of Governors