CUS Broadcast – Transparency and Consent Culture

CONTENT NOTE: This issue of the CUS Broadcast addresses previous allegations of sexual violence at CUS events, the ongoing initiatives by students and by the CUS to support survivors and allies, and courses of action that the CUS is taking to prevent and manage future incidents. 

We understand that this is a sensitive topic. If you require additional support, please refer to the resources at the end of this email or contact us directly at vpexternal@cus.ca to continue this conversation. 

Context 

We recognize that the CUS has lacked in actively responding to and addressing allegations of sexual violence at our events in the past. Some occurrences include the chants that trivialized colonization and promoted sexual harm in 2013, during what was previously known as the first year “FROSH”. 

Other occurrences include harm endured by our current students and alumni. We recognize that some of these occurrences have been published on the Facebook page, “UBC Confessions”, and the Instagram page, “Sauder Unspoken”. We are thankful that students are active in voicing their concerns through various platforms. However, we also recognize that there may be other instances that we are currently unaware of. 

As the CUS, we will continue to listen and seek out opportunities to prioritize student voices in our actions and decisions. We apologize for the lack of acknowledgment of these occurrences from our predecessors; today we make it clear to the student body that the CUS hears your concerns, believes your stories, and stands with you in your frustrations. We are committed to always doing better.

Action Items 

Moving forward, the CUS has new initiatives underway for the upcoming school year to better educate ourselves, promote transparency of our history, and implement new policies to further establish a culture of consent at UBC Sauder. 

Learning and Development

We are collaborating with the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) to educate all CUS members. We will equip student leaders with knowledge and skills to develop sexual violence prevention guidelines and safety protocols in their leadership positions. 

The Clarify service (formerly known as Sexual Violence Prevention Student Coordinator) is working with the Human Resources Commission to inform all CUS members on where we have lacked responsibility in the past. Training will then be implemented for all current and future CUS members to improve upon ourselves. 

Recognizing the CUS’ History 

This violence is a part of our history and we hope to be more transparent in addressing the ways that it has affected our students. We seek to be vigilant in our efforts to build a culture of consent and respect at our school. 

In the past, we have not been open with our history. However, we are now in the process of making our history more accessible to all students through a digital timeline. Not only is it beneficial for students to know, but it makes us reflect on these incidents and strive to do better in the future. 

Implementing Policies

The CUS is developing Article 13 of the Code of Procedures, which is entitled Event Conduct and Risk Management. This policy outlines our commitment to consent culture, sexual violence prevention, alcohol risk mitigation, indigenous reconciliation, online safety, accessibility, and general event safety. In this policy, consent culture is defined as “a culture where everyone respects the physical and emotional boundaries of those they interact with personally, professionally and academically. This includes, but is not limited to sexual acts, physical contact, treatment in professional settings, acknowledgment of unceded territory, and use of language.” The updated version of this policy will be published by September 1st, which will be announced through a future issue of the CUS Broadcast.

The CUS is also improving its relationship with SVPRO and UBC Investigations Office to make sure that we are well informed about sexual violence prevention and consent culture. These parties have been supporting the development of Article 13 as well as advising us on how to effectively and respectfully implement it. Including event safety as a criterion for evaluating events, training student leaders, and adding constructive consequences for violating Article 13 are a few elements of the implementation strategy. 

Lastly, the CUS will also be advocating for more robust and transparent sexual violence prevention policies throughout the Sauder community. In Article 13, we state, “The Society believes that students can only be empowered professionally, personally and academically when they feel physically and emotionally safe in their environment.” We hope to help establish a learning institution where all students feel safe and secure at every event, lecture, tutorial, meeting, and interview. 

Here is the draft copy of Article 13. It is updated as of August 2020. Please feel free to read through the article draft and let us know if you have any feedback that you would like us to improve upon. 

The CUS strives to be more accountable and transparent for our work, including the mistakes that have and may occur. We are deeply sorry for our past behaviour in handling similar situations and we sincerely apologize to individuals who have been affected by this either directly or indirectly. 

Future Support

The CUS is continuing to listen to student voices and learn from the valuable resources available on campus and in the community. These action items are not limited to what we will be doing. The wellbeing of students is extremely important to us. We are trying to be the best version of ourselves. 

To illustrate our viewpoint about the sexual violence allegations, we invited members across the CUS to share their perspective and personal commitments to make UBC Sauder a safe place for everyone. You can view the video here.  

Resources

As we are all student volunteers, we are not and will never claim to be professionals in this matter. This is why it is essential for us to regularly meet with campus organizations such as SVPRO, SASC, and IO to better understand our roles as student volunteers and the actions we can take. 

If you require immediate attention or would like to be further educated, there are resources in place on campus accessible for all students.  

In addition, if you require mental health resources or counselling, Empower Me is a service for eligible UBC Students with a 24-hour crisis line. Campus Lightbox is also a source for additional resources. 

Thank you for reading through the CUS Broadcast. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for us, please do not hesitate to reach us at vpexternal@cus.ca or fill out our CUS Anonymous Suggestion Survey


In case you missed previous issues of the broadcast, the CUS Broadcast was created for us to share important information with you during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the broadcast, we hope to provide greater transparency for who we are as an Undergraduate Society and the inner workings of the CUS. For more information and to read other CUS Broadcast issues, please visit us at https://cus.ca/.