Our Turn publishes national action plan against sexual violence

Our Turn, a student-led initiative to end sexual violence on campus, launched a National Action Plan on Oct. 11 from McGill University’s campus, according to a press release.

The National Action Plan lays out a list of principles that student unions can adopt to prevent sexual violence, support survivors, and advocate for change on their campuses, according to the document.

The plan, according to the release, was created by three Carleton University students along with the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

The action plan also includes scores for sexual violence policies from 14 school across the country, almost half of which failed to score higher than a ‘C’ grade.

According to the document, the policies are graded on a 100-point scale that is divided into five sections: general (34 points), scope (17 points), composition of the review committee or decision-makers (eight points), formal and informal complaint process (30 points) and education and prevention (11 points).

Some of the findings of the plan include the fact that the policies at eight schools recognize intersectionality, nine have gag orders, four allow anonymous reporting, and three mention rape culture.

According to the document, Carleton University’s Sexual Violence Policy scored a ‘B-’. The plan recommends that Carleton’s policy should not have a gag order, which prohibits the complainant from making any public statements or speaking to the media.

Recently, Brittany Galler, a second-year law and legal studies student at Carleton and the vice-president (programming) at the Rideau River Residence Association (RRRA), criticized the policy after being allegedly sexually assaulted, according to a recent The Charlatan article.

Caitlin Salvino, National Our Turn committee chair, told The Charlatan in July that one of the reasons Our Turn Carleton was created was because the university failed to thoroughly consult students before passing its policy in December 2016.

According to the release, once student unions sign on to the action plan, they will begin by compiling an Our Turn taskforce that is made of “relevant stakeholders” in the university community.

Some student unions may choose to adopt every “guiding principle” suggested by the plan, while others may adopt only a few, according to the document.

“This plan is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a starting point for student groups who want to make change but don’t know where to begin,” the document states.

So far, 20 student unions from eight provinces across Canada have signed on to the action plan, including the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, the Carleton University Students’ Association, the Carleton Academic Student Government, and RRRA.

Photo by Meagan Casalino