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June 16, 2016

Santa Ono on Addressing Sexual Assault at UBC

As Surrey Women’s Centre gives a #ShoutOut4Survivors, we would also like to welcome Dr. Santa Ono to his new role as UBC President. We are hopeful that Dr. Ono will enable UBC to address its history of failing to adequately respond to and support survivors of sexual assault.

Dr. Ono said yesterday on Global News that, “the number of cases [of sexual assault] is actually a small percentage of the number of students that go to a university.” Unfortunately the reality is that sexual assault in university is disturbingly common. Statistics show that 20% of women and 6% of men are raped while in university.

Sometimes people are under the impression that rape is rare at universities because more than 90% of those sexual assault survivors do not report the assaults. Low reporting is reflective of our failure to create an environment that is safe for survivors, not of the rarity of sexual assault itself. Recent events at UBC display this.  

In a recent interview Dr. Ono has also stated that in cases of sexual assault, universities must “look after the interests of the alleged perpetrator as well as the victim,” though it would seem UBC already has perpetrators well looked after.

Dr. Ono has also talked about consulting “subject matter experts from the U.S. and elsewhere so that we can move quickly at UBC” in terms of addressing sexual assault. We hope that he will also consult with local subject matter experts. UBC has so far been the recipient of many insightful recommendations based on best practice from these local experts. They have so far been ignored.

As local experts on the matter ourselves, we hope that Dr. Ono will provide direction to his staff to implement these recommendations in partnership with the community so that we can continue to dialogue and provide better mutual support for each other in the future.

We offer our congratulations to Dr. Ono on his new appointment and look forward to his contributions to a safer campus environment at UBC where survivors will receive the support they need.

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