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A year after requirement for sexual assault policies came in, resources vary at BC universities

People walk past large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., on November 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

UBC, SFU have sexual response and prevention offices; no such dedicated office exists at Kwantlen, UVic

VANCOUVER – One year after a bill came into effect requiring BC universities to have sexual assault policies, resources and supports available at the post-secondary institutions still vary widely.

Students at UBC and SFU can walk into a sexual assault response and prevention office, open five days a week. Director CJ Rowe says the office is responsible for providing support, education and information about reporting options.

“I think in the past, there’s been quite a lot of confusion as to who to go to, where to get information from. I think a central resource office provides that opportunity for there to be a bit of a one-stop.”

But no such dedicated office exists for students at smaller institutions including Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the University of Victoria.

Caitlin McCutchen of the Alliance of BC Students says the disparity is due to resources.

“Perhaps if the government had attached some funding or perhaps had attached more laid-out principles or guidlines, that could have helped other universities that didn’t necessarily have the resources or the guidance prior to having to implement the policy.”

The province passed a bill in the spring of 2016 requiring universities to have sex assault policies, but they gave schools a year before it took effect on May 19th, 2017.

But BC didn’t attach any funding to the bill — unlike Quebec, which just invested $23 million to fight campus sexual violence.

Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark says she recently asked students, staff and faculty for their input on the policies. Mark says an analysis is being finalized with recommendations for next steps.