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Associated Alumni

Updates: UNB's sexual assault policy and resources at UNB

We will always stand with our students and alumni who have been affected by sexual violence. 

Below you will find the most recent communications from UNB on the establishment of a Sexual Assault Policy Review Committee.  We will share any future communications with you as they become available.

If you are a survivor or are supporting a survivor we encourage you to seek support if needed. Sexual Violence New Brunswick offers a support line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 506-454-0437.

July 18, 2022

In 2016 UNB launched its first Sexual Assault Policy and Procedures. Recognizing that effective ways to address sexual violence is an evolving process as best practices continue to be developed, the policy calls for a regular review to be undertaken. Instituting regular reviews ensures the best known practices are adopted and that the most effective supports are available for survivors. In December 2020, I convened the first Sexual Assault Policy Review committee, chaired by Dr. Cathy Holtmann.

Through extensive consultation with individuals and various groups within and outside UNB, the committee confirmed that the Campus Sexual Assault Support Advocates, members of the Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault and members of the Sexual Violence Prevention Team have done an enormous amount of work since 2016. Their work has significantly improved our ability to increase the awareness and prevention of sexual violence on our campuses.

As an institution, we have made gains over the past several years; however, there is still much work to be done. The work of the committee has allowed us to complete an extensive review. Based on their work, we’ve identified four areas of focus.

Areas of Focus

  1. Prevention and Awareness - The committee found the need for better accessibility to information about UNB’s Sexual Assault Policy, Procedures and Campus Sexual Assault Advocates. The information we share needs to have an intersectional approach sensitive to the experiences of racialized, LGBTQ2SI+ and Indigenous people on our campuses and international and graduate students. The committee found some inequities between our Fredericton and Saint John campuses concerning prevention and awareness efforts.

  2. Education and Professional Development - The committee recommended that more data be collected to better understand what training is being accessed by our community. This will help inform if certain training should be mandatory for students, faculty and staff. Recommendations were made to increase the uptake of bystander and disclosure training on our campuses and to make it more accessible for students, faculty and staff. There was the recognition that this training should be reviewed for its sensitivity, given the unique needs of equity-seeking groups. Since many student survivors disclose to faculty members, disclosure training should be strongly encouraged for all faculty and staff.  In addition, faculties and units should identify a champion to help disseminate information and training opportunities to colleagues. The committee also recognized the need to engage more men in the efforts to reduce sexual violence and the need for EDI training for all those involved in carrying out UNB’s sexual assault procedures.

  3. Intervention - It is incredibly difficult for survivors to disclose their experiences. The committee found the need for more clarification surrounding confidentiality within the policy and procedure process and the obligation of faculty/staff who receive a disclosure. The procedures for student complaints against students and complaints involving faculty/staff require more consistency and transparency to ensure survivors understand the process. The adjudication process for formal complaints requires a more consistent and transparent approach. The list of sanction options requires principles to help guide the adjudicators when deciding on punitive or educational sanctions.

  4. Policy and Strategic Development - Understanding the experiences and perceptions of the UNB community regarding sexual assault is critical for informing effective responses.  UNB conducted a Sexual Assault Climate Survey in 2015, and the committee has recommended that UNB undertake another survey. The committee also identified the need for the university to investigate options for evaluating cases and responses on a regular basis as part of a quality assurance process. Further opportunities for exploring the efficacy of restorative justice models and improving data collection procedures were identified.

Next steps:

I am grateful for the work of the review committee, and I have tasked a smaller implementation group to move priority areas for improvement forward, working with our existing Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault. The intent of the smaller group is to ensure that implementation of the recommendations happens in a timely manner with regular progress reports. The implementation group will be formed over the summer, with work beginning in early fall.

UNB has the ability to lead in this space, given the expertise on our campuses, our partnerships with the community and our commitment to continually improve our university for those who study, work and visit our campuses. Thank you to everyone who has provided, and continues to provide, time and expertise in support of this important work.

With kind regards,
Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle
President and Vice-Chancellor

January 22, 2021

Dear members of the University Community,

As indicated before the holidays, UNB is committed to addressing all forms of sexual violence on campus and recognizes the importance of reviewing current policies and practices to ensure appropriate supports and responses are in place to support survivors.

I have now established a UNB Sexual Assault Policy Review Committee. The University is committed to undertaking regular reviews of our Sexual Assault Policy to ensure it best serves survivors.  The events that were brought to our attention prior to the holidays illustrate the complexities associated with sexual violence in a university context, and also the need to take a wide view in considering areas for review and reform.

This important review will be Chaired by Dr. Cathy Holtmann, Director of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (MMFC).  The review will be comprehensive and undertaken over several months with an expectation for reporting in the fall of 2021.  Individuals from both UNB campuses, including student representatives, Sexual Violence New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Community College and Saint Thomas University will be part of this Review Committee. 

Over the course of the review, there will be opportunities for the University community to provide feedback and participate in various consultation processes.  We look forward to your engagement and participation in this important review.

With kind regards,

November 20, 2020

Dear students, 

Survivors of sexual violence have been on the hearts and minds of the UNB community over the past 10 days. Members of our community have courageously come forward to tell their personal accounts and share their traumatic experiences. We condemn sexual violence and harassment in any form or in any place. In all that we do, the safety of our students remains our top priority and we commit to make every effort to prevent sexual violence at UNB.

When UNB was informed of the recent reports of students impacted by sexual violence, we immediately took measures to ensure that students are protected. Appropriate supports are in place at the Student Health Centre, and clients should feel safe to contact them at (506) 453-4837. UNB has ended its service contract with Dr. Bhargava and, in addition to some interim measures, we are working with Horizon Health authorities to develop a more robust structure for supporting the health needs of the student community on campus.

The recent student reporting raises important questions about our institutional responses to sexual violence which we take seriously and will address directly. 

UNB is commencing a comprehensive review of the current Sexual Assault Policy and the safeguards that encourage survivors to report with confidence that their interests will be protected. It is evident that greater awareness is required to educate all our people about the dangers of sexual violence and the support and reporting channels available for survivors. UNB will take an active role in raising this awareness while maintaining the precautions and legal requirements associated with handling allegations of sexual violence, especially the privacy restrictions and risks of increased trauma associated with allegations being disclosed publicly.

These recent troubling experiences of our students provide us with an important opportunity to share insights and perspectives for the benefit of the entire community. Greater awareness of sexual violence can surely contribute to increased reporting of incidents as well as increased engagement with preventative initiatives. This is a community wide responsibility, and we all have a role to play to support survivors and prevent all acts of sexual violence and harassment. 

We will be hosting an important awareness event to hear from professionals, researchers, advocates, students, and survivors about their experiences and perspectives. I encourage you all to participate in these events, to contribute to our collective knowledge and understanding of sexual violence and how to best prevent its recurrence. 

With kind regards,
Paul J. Mazerolle
President and Vice-Chancellor

November 17, 2020

Over the past week, several public disclosures reporting allegations of sexual assault have surfaced at UNB. 

Since these incidents have been raised, the university has acted to protect students, identify and promote supports available, and encourage survivors – if they choose-- to pursue various reporting avenues. Earlier today we learned that the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New Brunswick has suspended the license of a doctor who practiced at the UNB Fredericton Student Health Centre.

The safety and welling being of our community is, and will always be, our top priority. While we may not be able to provide details at this time, please know that our silence does not mean inaction, nor does it mean that we haven’t been listening. We are actively working to address your concerns.

There is more we can do as a university to respond to sexual violence. We must be prepared to raise greater awareness across our university community of the nature of sexual assault and sexual victimization. 

We also need better ways to inform students, staff and faculty where to go for support and the nature of the support available for assisting survivors.  UNB has a number of campus sexual support officers in place, but survivors need to know how to access such support.

Equally important is for the need for the wider university community of staff and faculty to understand the risks many of our students face, to become better informed and to find out further information on how they can assist if someone discloses information.

We acknowledge the seriousness of sexual violence and the courage required to come forward with deeply personal information about such traumatic events. Counselling Services are available for support. Fredericton students can book an appointment through the Counselling Services website, email or call (506) 453-4820. Saint John students can book an appointment through the Counselling Services website, email or call (506) 506-648-5501, and have access 24/7 to, or call 1-877-390-7325.

With kind regards,
Paul J. Mazerolle
President and Vice-Chancellor

The University of New Brunswick