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RWLE and Sexual Violence policy updates you should know about

December 15, 2020 — 

Every university member has the right to a respectful work and learning environment, free from all forms of sexual violence – including sexual harassment and assault.

Recent updates to the Sexual Violence and Respectful Work and Learning Environment (RWLE) policies more clearly outline the process for responding to prohibited conduct across the university while also clarifying the rights and responsibilities of community members.

The biggest change to the policies is that the Sexual Violence Policy (formerly the Sexual Assault Policy) now addresses all forms of sexual violence, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. Previously sexual harassment was addressed under the RWLE Policy.  Additionally, the RWLE and Sexual Assault Procedure has been renamed the Disclosures and Complaints Procedure. It is the procedure for both the RWLE and Sexual Violence policies.

“The University of Manitoba is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and enriching working and learning environment free from discrimination, harassment and sexual violence,” says Michael Benarroch, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manitoba.  “This commitment is foundational to the recent updates to the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy, the Sexual Violence Policy and the Disclosures and Complaints Procedure.

In 2018, discussions about drafting new policies began. An RWLE and Sexual Assault and Advisory Committee was established which sought input from students, staff, faculty and alumni about the policies and their impact. At the same time, the university commissioned a report entitled Responding to Sexual Violence, Harassment and Discrimination at the University of Manitoba: A Path Forward.

“The drafting of these amendments drew heavily on community feedback and best practice standards. Many of the recommendations of the Path Forward Report were policy-related, and they have now been integrated into these new policies,” says Benarroch.

“I am proud of the tremendous effort that has gone into these governing documents, which provide a clear directive on our community’s responsibilities as well as transparent and trauma-informed processes should breaches occur,” he says.

Other updates to the Sexual Violence Policy include an updated definition of “consent” that rejects the idea of “advanced consent”; intersectionality is woven through the guiding principles and reflects UM’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion; and additional language has been included to emphasize the university’s commitment to protect its members from reprisal.

The revised policies and procedure can be found online on the University Governance website

Education and resources available

The university is committed to providing education and resources surrounding the updated policies, and has created several information sheets that provide more information on the topics found in the policies and procedures.

“Experiencing an incident of sexual violence, harassment, or discrimination is difficult. Deciding how to proceed and identifying available supports often adds to this difficulty,” says Meghan Menzies, Human Rights and Conflict Management Officer in the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management and co-chair of the RWLE and Sexual Assault Policy Review Committee. “The U of M’s policies are here to provide regulations and outline associated processes, but may be difficult for community members to interpret and understand. The info sheets were developed in order to assist community members in understanding and applying the University’s updated Sexual Violence Policy, Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy, and Disclosure and Complaints Procedure.”

The following information sheets have been developed and can be found on this website:

– sexual violence;

– consent;

– discrimination and harassment;

– social media and online behaviour;

– the scope and application of the policies,

– disclosures, formal resolutions and informal resolutions;

– confidentiality;

–  investigations and UII;

– findings of breach and no breach;

– accommodations and supports;

– interim measures;

– limits of the policies

– external reporting options;

 

Other resources available to community members include the Sexual Violence Awareness course on UM Learn, and Sexual Violence Resource Centre.

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