Home > About B.U. > Governance and Administration > Prevention of Sexual Violence Independent Review of Policies and Practices

Update as of July 7, 2022

Dear Members of the Bishop’s community, 

***Please note that the information below is about sexual violence and may trigger painful reactions for some people. Please find mental health resources for students here.*** 

When we first learned of the message on the bridge in November, the University responded in several ways. Dr. Stine Linden Andersen, Vice Principal, Student Affairs, held several town hall meetings and we hired an external investigator to allow anyone with knowledge about the message to share their information in confidence.  

To date the investigator has received no further information about the situation or origins of the words on the bridge.  

The Board of Governors established an Ad hoc Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Violence. Under Cathy McLean’s (Vice-Chair of the Board) leadership, the Committee engaged an Independent Review Panel (IRP) of the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR). 

CCLISAR is an independent organization with no ties to Bishop’s University.  The members of the Independent Review Panel included some of the foremost experts on matters of sexualized violence.

The Independent Review Panel was led by Joanna Birenbaum, a litigator with expertise in gender equality and sexual violence. Its other members were Angela Campbell, McGill University’s Associate Provost for Equity and Academic Policies and Carissima Mathen, Law Professor at the University of Ottawa. They were supported by Dr. Lori Haskell, a Clinical Psychologist and Karen Busby, Louise Langevin and Elaine Craig, who are Law Professors at the University of Manitoba, Université Laval and Dalhousie University respectively. 

The Independent Review Panel’s mandate was distinct from that of the external investigator. Its role was to review the policies and support processes in place at Bishop’s and to make recommendations about how they could be improved. 

The Panel has completed its report, and CCLISAR will also be publishing the report on its website

Below are some of the key recommendations:

The panel determined that Bishop’s needs to improve communications with our community about how to seek the University’s support resources when acts of sexual violence occur. 

We will need to take additional steps to ensure that our entire community better understands the steps to take when acts of sexual violence have been committed.

The panel determined that there is significant confusion about the difference between the terms: ‘disclosure’, ‘report’ and ‘formal report’. 

CCLISAR recommends we only have two categories, that of disclosure and report. We will need to work to help our community better distinguish the different implications associated with these terms, as well as the different consequences and outcomes that can be expected to follow in terms of accommodations, support and legal and judicial ramifications when disclosing or reporting acts of sexual violence. 

The IRP also noted we should simplify the process by which we accompany survivors. While any and all of us may be called upon to listen to a survivor in confidence based on bonds of mutual trust, we need to ensure that those who come to us know they can find the support they need through the Sexual Violence Support Centre, where they can talk to a Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator. 

We have a responsibility as an institution to make sure that we all understand how to respond to acts of sexual violence. We will continue to offer mandatory training for students, faculty and staff to ensure all of us are clear on how to support survivors and witnesses of acts of sexual violence. 

The University has already acted on several of the Panel’s recommendations as is outlined in the Ad Hoc Committee’s Action plan.

For example, we are in the process of hiring a second Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator (SARC) and moving the Sexual Violence Prevention Centre to the space in the Student Centre where BUnited is housed. More work will be done over the summer and the Vice Principal Student Affairs will provide regular updates on progress in Town Halls this fall. 

Moreover, we will present an update on our progress in implementing CCLISAR’s recommendations before the end of the fall 2022 Semester. 

Michael Goldbloom, C.M.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor