Taylor Chalker
Taylor Chalker
Entertainment Marketing graduate from the Toronto Film School, and first-year Arts student at UNB.
September 19, 2021

UNBSU Disappoints: Lack of Sexual Assault Advocacy

UNB Student Union Building | Photo By Jules Keenan

Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual violence. 

Many students feel that the UNBSU needs to be held accountable for the lack of transparency regarding advocation toward sexual violence prevention on campus. 

Fall 2020 saw survivors within the UNB community sharing their experiences of sexual violence. The UNBSU quickly responded with a statement of support, condemning the university for creating an environment where survivors feared coming forward. 

“UNBSU feels it is imperative to continue this conversation,” said the statement which was released on social media. “We stand in solidarity with all victims and survivors of sexual violence.”

The UNBSU is designed to be an entity that will advocate and support the student body, yet many students have expressed feelings of frustration and feel that the current student union has failed to deliver during their tenure. 

“I do not feel represented. I do not feel like enough is being done. I do not feel like the UNBSU cares. I am not alone in feeling like this,” said Sarah*, a UNB student.  

While running in the 2020 election, members of the current UNBSU identified transparency and accountability as important issues within their platform. Sean MacKenzie, UNBSU President, ensured students that he would prioritize transparency if elected. He identified the importance of prioritizing student concerns while participating in the 2020 Executive Debate. 

“We are going to take them seriously, because this union is for all of us. It’s not just for the executive, it’s not just for the council, it’s not just based off of what we want to do as our own personal agenda,” MacKenzie stated during the debate. “This is for students, by students.”

Sarah explained that she chose to vote for candidates based on their promises for transparency and is frustrated with the lack of follow through on campaign promises. 

“As a survivor and a feminist, it hurts to see such outward support followed by apparent inaction,” said Sarah. “When I voted in last year’s UNBSU election, I voted in large part for the promises of transparency and sexual violence prevention. Instead, I have been given a statement saying that the UNBSU supports students and then felt utterly unsupported.” 

At the January 17 council meeting, it was announced that Seth Corner, former CRO, had conducted an Executive Review Report to gain insight into the operations of the SU. This report identified recommendations to improve UNBSU operations, which included increasing information available to students. The recommendations section of the report are available on the SU website. 

“Following the recommendation outlined in this review, the Executive is now tasked with creating a definitive change to how the Union is run to benefit all students,” explained MacKenzie. 

Sarah hopes that the incoming executives for the 21/22 school year will do more to advocate for sexual violence prevention while remaining transparent with the student body.

“If the UNBSU executives do not continue to maintain their promises to advocate for students and to be transparent, then I do not believe that they should remain in a position where their role is so crucial to the student body,” said Sarah, “especially such a vulnerable demographic as survivors of sexual violence.”

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

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