Many NASA members are no doubt aware of the significant restriction of services and programming currently being offered by the U of A Sexual Assault Centre following the dismissal of the centre's director and a number of its staff. In the past week, NASA has met with other campus unions to discuss the impact of this almost-three-month-long disruption on survivors who need to access the centre's supports and find ways to expedite a return to full services at the centre.
On February 8, 2024, NASA President Quinn Benders and Director of Operations Joy Correia sent an open letter to President Bill Flanagan and other senior university leadership calling for immediate action to reopen the centre in a manner that meets the immediate needs of survivors and also ensures a safe work environment for staff. You can read the full letter below.
February 8, 2024
Office of the President
2-24 South Academic Building (SAB)
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2G7
Sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear President Flanagan,
We are writing to express our concern with the ongoing disruption to the critical services provided on campus by the University of Alberta’s Sexual Assault Centre (UASAC).
As you are no doubt aware, the centre has been operating without leadership since the previous director was dismissed in November 2023. A number of UASAC staff members belonging to the Non-Academic Staff Association (NASA) were also subsequently dismissed in January 2024. While we will leave these disruptions to their respective labour relations processes, we feel obligated to add our voice to others in the university community who are calling for restoration of the full functioning of the centre’s programming and outreach initiatives as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, sexual violence remains a pervasive problem on campus, and the prolonged disruption in the centre’s important work to support survivors and provide outreach and education is significantly impacting both students and staff who need support and the university’s important work in addressing sexual violence. We are especially concerned that the UASAC remains closed to drop-ins and has restricted support services to appointments only, which creates an unnecessary barrier to students and staff in need of the centre’s support.
While we are well aware of the significant safety concerns that prompted the initial closure of in-person services at the centre in November, we feel that almost three months is ample time for university administration to implement measures to address these concerns. For example, adding a security presence in the UASAC workplace would likely go a long way to managing the staff’s concerns about safety while still allowing the centre to be open to those seeking assistance. Those persons are not limited to the students on campus, as our members are also subject to sexual violence. Removing the supports the UASAC offered, in the mode it offered them, creates serious issues for NASA as services previously accessed by our members at their most vulnerable are not currently available in a way that best serves their needs.
We would like to request a meeting with you and other campus stakeholders within the next two weeks in order to discuss how we can best balance the full resumption of UASAC services and programming in a manner that meets the immediate needs of survivors and also ensures a safe work environment for staff.
NASA Director of Operations
CC Kate Chisholm
Dr. Verna Yiu