McGill University working on sexual assault policy
McGill University is developing a new policy to handle sexual assaults involving students.
Groups of students have been pushing for a new policy, and earlier this year finished their draft of suggested guidelines.
Dorothy Apedaile of the school's sexual assault centre said after the policy was presented, she expected something to happen.
"We haven't really been contacted by the administration since we released our open letter and the final draft of the policy, which is quite frustrating as an organization to do all this work and be told, 'oh sorry we're not going to use any of your work,'" said Apedaile.
One student pushing for a new policy is Ariane Litalien. She was an undergraduate at Harvard University when she was attacked in her dormitory.
"The school didn't do a whole lot about it, it was essentially a slap on the wrist," said Litalien.
"I was discouraged from moving forward with a disciplinary procedure, I was discouraged from trying to find my own accommodations and work something out, it was really traumatic."
She now worries about the safety of students at McGill -- where she is in medical school.
"Every single school in the United States has a sexual assault policy. There's actually a law in place to make sure those schools have sexual assault policies and support survivors and there's a reporting process if that is broken. Here we're a bit more in limbo," said Litalien.
Dean of Students Andre Costopoulos believes the school does need a written framework to handle sexual assaults that can be applied uniformly among the community of tens of thousands of students and staff.
"We want to see a policy come together, we think it's important, we're committed to supporting those who have experienced sexual violence we're committed to maintaining a safe campus environment and we're going to keep working on that," he said.
His office is informed of one or two sexual assaults each month.
"Those are only the disclosures that come to us. There's a lot of under-reporting that has to be kept in mind as well," said Costopoulos.
He doesn't think the number of reported sexual assaults is unusual.
"McGill is a large community, 40,000-plus people. In a town of 40,000 you're going to have stuff happen," said Costopoulos.
Costopoulos said the school's goal is to finish its own draft document by the end of the academic year, and then present it for campus-wide consultation.