In response to a formal University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) request, the University of Alberta has committed to publishing a private audit of its sexual violence prevention and response efforts. The UASU and the rest of the University community should receive the audit report by mid-August at the latest.
"I look forward to reading the report," said UASU President Abner Monteiro. "Any fair review will reveal the same inaction we've fought for years."
Last November, the UASU, the Graduate Students' Association, 20 other student associations at the University of Alberta, and the Non-Academic Staff Association signed a joint letter demanding concrete reforms. The letter highlighted key deficiencies in training, reporting and support mechanisms, intersectional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) issues, and instructors' collective agreement. Dozens of student representatives walked out of the General Faculties Council — stalling major governance processes for weeks — to protest the University's inaction.
Within days of the walkout, as mentioned in a set of public minutes, the Board of Governors privately commissioned an audit of all policies, procedures, systems, and resources related to sexual violence prevention and response.
The UASU filed a freedom of information request for the private audit's results. In a letter refusing the request, the University has committed to publish the audit report on or before August 16, 2022.
"I hope this report spurs the University to choose courage and develop institutional will," said Monteiro. "I'm optimistic about the Sexual Violence Response Coordinator and the renewal of the Sexual Violence Policy Suite, but some of the systemic problems are larger than a new staff member and a policy update can solve."
A letter from the Minister of Advanced Education, driven by advocacy from the Council of Alberta University Students, has added urgency to the situation. "Students have made it clear to the government that our schools need to take sexual violence far more seriously," said Vice President (External) Christian Fotang. "We've fought for a safer campus in the legislature, in boards and committees, and with a historic walkout. Now it's the University's turn to put in the work."
"Our university needs to do a better job with preventative measures," added Vice President (Student Life) Joannie Fogue. "The administration only seems to act when a student has already faced harm and trauma, but often ignores the work that needs to get done to actually end sexual violence on our campuses."
About the University of Alberta Students’ Union
The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Department of Research and Advocacy
University of Alberta Students’ Union