The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) is deeply concerned about SFU’s response to the article in the Vancouver Sun regarding recent sexual assaults on campus. Our members and the students they teach have a right to work and learn in an environment free from violence and harassment. The SFU Senior Administration needs to take responsibility for their decades of inaction and start being part of the solution rather than silently perpetuating injustice.

“In response to the information that students who have reported sexual assault were forced to leave school, SFU states that it is working on new policies. However, they have failed to live up to their policies in the past,” said Carl Mandy, TSSU spokesperson. “Universities across Canada, and SFU in particular, do not provide the necessary supports and services for students and workers who are harassed or attacked on campus. This latest failure to address the consequences of living in rape culture is not acceptable.”

“Rape culture is the everyday experience that says, ‘Don’t get raped’ instead of, ’Don’t rape’” said Mandy. “Treating sexual violence as a problem between individuals ignores that it is an institutional problem. Last semester, when TSSU brought up the issues of sexual violence to the Senior Administration, rather than consider the solutions we brought forward, they deferred any responsibility to fund and build a solution squarely onto students.”

“Both workers and students at the University have a right to work and learn in an environment free from violence and harassment. It is long past time to deliver on that commitment,” said Mandy. “A recent review of the SFU’s Bullying and Harassment Program found several cases where employees who alleged harassment left SFU, rather than pursuing complaints. Despite legal requirements, SFU is failing to protect workers; it’s no surprise that students experience even worse problems.”

Ending rape culture on campus begins with mandatory education, training, and orientation for every member of the SFU community, including all incoming students. When sexual violence is reported, both students and workers should have the same rights to be protected and accommodated. TSSU will continue to work with campus allies to advocate for real solutions on this campus.

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