FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Québec, November 27th, 2017.
On November 22nd, the Association for the Voice of Education in Quebec (AVEQ) was present at the National Assembly to participate in the consultations hosted by the Commission on Culture and Education regarding Bill 151, which aims to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions. AVEQ would like to highlight the openness of Minister Hélène David on certain elements, and to reiterate the importance of increasing and stabilising funding resources dedicated to community groups and to institutions for the specific aim of combatting sexual violence. Furthermore, we would like to raise a reminder that police forces should not be cited in the Bill as external resources that universities must directly collaborate with.
The Minister has expressed a desire to examine many of AVEQ’s recommendations, such as including a glossary of definitions in the Bill, creating a working committee in each institutions, as well as creating an independent reporting office. However, we will continue to remain insistant on reducing the role of the police force in relation to this Bill.
“We recommend removing the mention of police forces as an “external resource” from the Bill, since we do not believe that they are useful regarding preventing and fighting sexual violence. Higher education institutions, when they turn to external resources on this issue, must prioritize collaborating with local community groups such as the CALACS. Considering the number of negative experiences with police that survivors have had, not to mention the actions of police forces toward certain communities – we can not fail to recall the testimonies of Indigenous women in Val-d’Or – it is quite normal for police forces to be excluded from this Bill. As long as there is racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and mistreatment of the Quebec population and Indigenous people by the police, AVEQ opposes the active participation of the police force in preventing and fighting sexual violence in our universities.”, explained Sophia Sahrane, AVEQ’s Coordinator of Education and Research.
Certain members of the commission also posed relevant questions regarding the quantity of resources that must be afforded to higher education institutions. “As mentioned in our recommendations, Bill 151 must define minimum resources for higher education institutions, in terms of mental health, health care, and accompaniment services. It is also important to not forget regional institutions during the implementation of this law and distribution of resources. Higher education institutions in regions may have less students, but that does not mean that they have less needs. While resources in regions are sometimes already tight, we must not forget that the austerity measures from the last few years has particularly affected regional universities.”, highlighted Perrine Argilès, AVEQ’s General Coordinator.
Finally, AVEQ spokespeople declared that, contrary to what the current form of the Bill might suggest, it is not only student-professor relations that can constitute relationships of power or have an impact on students’ academic pathways.
AVEQ’s mission is to defend both Anglophone and francophone students, with particular attention to the realities of students in the regions. AVEQ currently represents over 46,000 students across three member associations, and other association are actively participating in its creation.