04 Dec Response to October 17, 2017 article in the Surveyor Online
4 December 2017
EDIT (5 December 2017): the Surveyor Online has published a corrective statement from the UPEISU linked to the original article.
It has come to the attention of the University of Prince Edward Island Student Union (UPEISU) that on October 17, 2017, the Surveyor Online published an article regarding the UPEISU’s work on a sexual violence policy at UPEI which contained misinformation.
The article opens with the following statements:
“Hammad Ahmed was reading the UPEI student union policy when something didn’t feel right. It was the policy on sexual assaults, which didn’t meet his expectations. So Ahmed and another student union member began writing their own policy.”
The UPEISU as an organization, and President Ahmed as its figurehead, are dedicated to eliminating sexual violence at UPEI. However, it was the previous year’s UPEISU President, Nathan Hood, who initiated the UPEISU’s work regarding a sexual violence policy. This work was carried forward by current Vice-President Academic and External, Taya Nabuurs, who started working with the university collaboratively to build a stand-alone sexual violence policy for UPEI — a separate body autonomous from the UPEI Student Union.
The article continues, “Having the policy ready for September was important to Ahmed, since this is the time most sexual assaults happen on students, he said.”
This statement is also misinformed in its claim that the policy was ready for September. Again, President Ahmed was not spearheading this particular initiative. Additionally, having the stand-alone sexual violence policy in collaboration with UPEI ready by September was not part of Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force’s (the group tasked with creating the stand-alone sexual violence prevention policy) plan. The original date for having the policy implemented was November, but the date has since been moved to January due to outstanding circumstances.
President Ahmed speaks to the misinformation in the article from Surveyor Online: “The UPEI Student Union supports all of our students to the best of our abilities, and one way of doing that is through the creation of stand-alone policies like this one. This article should clearly give credit to those responsible for working hard to achieve this for our school. As President, I am here to help and support each executive, employee of the Student Union, and their initiatives.”
In addition to some factual information being incorrect, the article features a picture with the following byline: “Hammad Ahmed and Holly Coombs hand out information about how students can protect themselves from sexual assault at UPEI.”
This statement is phrased to sound like the onus is on victims to protect themselves from sexual assault. The UPEI Student Union firmly understands that sexual assault is never the fault of the victim and rejects any such insinuations. The focus of Consent Week, a campaign-based event that was coordinated by Clubs and Campaigns Coordinator, Holly Coombs, and Vice-President Student Life, Megan Rix, was to educate students about consent in an effort to help turn rape culture into consent culture, not to teach students how to “protect themselves.”
The UPEISU would like to clarify the above misinformation, and in addition the fact that these two initiatives, that is, the creation of a stand-alone sexual assault policy for UPEI (not the Student Union), and the Consent Week campaign, while related in theme, are separate events.
Due to the negative repercussions from this article, and previous negative experiences with Holland College journalism student interviews, the UPEISU originally made the decision to suspend interviews with Holland College journalism students. However, the decision was quickly reversed after discussion within the organization. The UPEISU has been in contact with the author and the Holland College journalism department, and, as a result, has written a statement which the Surveyor Online has published to correct any misinformation within the original article.
For any further information about this statement, please contact the UPEISU Director of Communications at email@example.com.