Story by Anna Sophia Vollmerhausen, photo by Kyle Fazackerley
UPDATE: The Student Union Building referendum failed to pass on Dec. 8.
Carleton’s new Sexual Violence Policy (SVP) was approved at Carleton’s Board of Governors (BoG) meeting on Dec 1. Three of the four student representatives on the board voted against the policy.
The countdown to the meeting was one that had been running for months: it was the day the board would finally vote on Carleton’s draft sexual violence policy, amongst other motions.
Protestors gathered outside Richcraft Hall with signs half an hour before the meeting, armed with chants such as “Hey hey, ho ho, this draft has got to go,” and stayed for the first part of the meeting.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for Wes Nicol, who died Nov. 29. Nicol, a Carleton alumnus, donated $10 million to the Sprott School of Business for the construction of a new building on campus.
The discussion then moved onto the sexual violence policy. Suzanne Blanchard, vice-president (students and enrolment) opened by detailing the process that went into creating the policy currently before the board.
This included consultations, meetings with students and other stakeholders, 140 individual feedback submissions, and an open letter on the draft policy, Blanchard said.
“We wanted to make sure that we had as much feedback as possible on the draft that we put forward,” she said.
Jen Sugar, director of student affairs, then spoke about the sections of the policy they were able to change or clarify in response to the feedback received, as well as the sections they weren’t able to change. She also responded to a letter submitted after the initial feedback was recieved, detailing five additional concerns.
On the agenda for the open portion of the meeting, the approval of the sexual violence policy was allotted 20 minutes, but it lasted around 50 minutes.
“I’m well aware that development has been difficult and challenging,” said BoG member and former chair Tony Tattersfield. “. . . I think this draft has been as wide ranging and circulated within the Carleton community as it could be.”
Tattersfield then moved that the motion to adopt the policy be approved “without any amendments.”
Further questions from the board centered on reviewing the policy before the three-year deadline set out in it.
“If there’s something that’s totally not working, and we all agree that that needs to change, it’s not something that we have to wait three years to look at,” Blanchard said.
Michael Bueckert, one of the graduate representatives on the BoG, said he was concerned that none of the groups involved in the feedback on the policy were present at the meeting
“I know a lot of people are unhappy, and it’s really distressing that we don’t have any of these representative bodies here talking and being able to respond to the presentation we just had,” Bueckert said.
In response, Michael Wernick, the co-chair of the board, asked Bueckert “If you don’t feel you can speak for graduate students, why are you here?”
Bueckert walked out of the meeting at that point, but later returned.
Fahd Alhattab, Carleton University Students’ Association president and undergraduate representative, said he heard from students who would like the policy to be revisited in a year, instead of three years.
“Three years as students feels like a long time,” Alhattab said.
He asked the board if it would be possible to amend the policy to so that it could be reviewed earlier in case something isn’t working.
Tattersfield turned down this motion to amend his original motion.
“No solution is perfect, no policy is set in stone,” he said. “If a policy doesn’t work, irrespective of what the policy is, it needs to be amended.”
The BoG also unanimously approved the schematic design for the new Sprott School of Business building, as well as the expenditure of $2 million for the early design of the building.
“I think if you look at it, you can see how unique it is for the campus,” said Chris Carruthers, the chair of the BoG.
The intention, Carruthers said, is to name it the Nicol Building.
Additionally, the BoG unanimously approved the design concept for CUSA’s proposed new Student Union Building, which is dependent on the results of a referendum held from Dec. 6 and 7.
Board members also approved the final design for the Carleton University Institute for Advanced Research and Innovation in Smart Environments (ARISE) building.
Bueckert brought forward an emergency motion to halt the planned move of Carleton’s neuroscience department labs—which will be evicted from its current home in the Life Sciences Building due to construction related to the ARISE building—until a plan for the move is “developed and agreed upon.”
The motion was voted down by the BoG.