BofG: Surplus Confirmed, Sexual Violence Update, And New Program

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The college’s budgetary surplus last year (2023-24) was the largest in the school’s history, but not quite as large as the most recent prediction by Chief Financial Officer Marc Jones.

During the discussion of the new year’s (2024-25’s) budget in March, Jones told the college’s Board of Governors that the preceding 12 months (April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024) should see St. Clair end with a “black ink” difference in revenues over expenditures of approximately $52.1 million.

Subsequently, the books were officially closed on the previous year by the annual independent audit of the college’s finances, conducted by the KPMG accounting and management firm. The audit was presented to the Board during its May 28th meeting.

KPMG’s review concluded that the school wrapped up its 2023-24 fiscal year with a surplus of $49.27 million – a couple million short of Jones’ previous estimate. (See graphic at top for overview.)

Still, that $49.27 million windfall is, by far, the largest surplus in the school’s history, exceeding the previous record of $40.2 million which was rung up in 2018-19.

When the 2023-24 budget was initially set in March of 2023, Jones had forecast a surplus of $37.9 million. But an ongoing trend in enrolment increases at all campuses – including St. Clair’s “sister school” relationship with a private-sector school in the Greater Toronto Area – meant that revenues came in much higher than anticipated.

The 2023-24 surplus is the seventh consecutive, eight-figure surplus recorded by the college.

Due to the introduction of federal/provincial restrictions on international student immigration during the next two years, a decline in enrolment is expected in 2024-25. For that reason, the coming year’s budget (approved by the Board of Governors in March) bears a projected surplus of just $13.1 million.

That may, perhaps, prove to be somewhat conservative, if not downright pessimistic. Jones had to set the budget before the college learned that it would actually be retaining a substantial portion of its visa allocations for international students. So, the enrolment dip that the CFO used in his calculations may not turn out to be quite as severe as he anticipated.

(The college operates on the same fiscal year schedule as the provincial government, commencing on April 1 and ending on March 31.)

Tuition revenues are off to a good start, thanks to a hike in spring/summer semester enrolment this year compared to last.

Currently, at all campuses (Windsor, Chatham, and the Ace Acumen Academy “sister school” in the Greater Toronto Area), in the 20 or so programs that operate through the spring and summer, 8,677 students are attending classes. That is up from 7,526 last year.

ANNUAL SEXUAL VIOLENCE UPDATE

Editor’s Note: For the past several years, since the provincial government dictated that postsecondary institutions had a role to play in attempting to track and control incidents of sexual violence among their students, St. Clair has published an annual report on its efforts in that regard

Here is the 2023-24 report, tabled before the school’s Board of Governors during its May 28th meeting. We have chosen to publish the report in full, given the importance of the subject:

Pursuant to subsection 17(7.1) of the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities Act (MTCU Act), St. Clair College is required to provide an Annual Report to its Board of Governors annually. This Annual Report must be publicly available and include the following information:

• Number of times that supports, services and accommodations relating to sexual violence are requested and obtained by students enrolled at the college or university, and information about supports, services and accommodations;

• Any initiatives and programs established by the college or university to promote awareness of the supports and services available to students;

• The number of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students and about such incidents and complaints;

• The implementation and effectiveness of the policy.

St. Clair College has two policies which deal with sexual misconduct. The first policy, entitled “Sexual Violence Prevention and Reporting Policy”, updated in 2023, addresses student-to-student sexual violence. This policy requires a review every three years under the MTCU Act. In 2022, the MTCU Act was updated to require postsecondary institutions to initiate a policy concerning sexual misconduct. This policy addresses relationships between staff and students. St. Clair College opted to develop a new stand-alone policy entitled “Sexual Misconduct Policy”. This policy was initiated in June of 2023, and was recently updated in February 2024. St. Clair College also has a webpage designed to specifically communicate supports, initiatives and reporting information so that students have easy access to this information.

Since 2017, the college has been tracking the number of sexual violence incidents that are reported to Security, the College Resolution Officer and the sexual violence leads. The college’s protocol is that disclosures made to the Health Centre staff, counsellors, college staff, student representatives or other areas are communicated, in general terms, to the SVP Lead for tracking purposes. However, the numbers shown on the accompanying chart may not be fully represented if the disclosure was not communicated properly.

In all cases, college representatives inform the victim of available supports and services (internal and external), as well as options for investigation. If a student wishes to pursue an investigation through the college, the college supports the students involved and has an external party (lawyer) conduct the investigation.

It is also important to note that the term “sexual violence”’ can include a wide range of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate touching to rape. Therefore, when reporting sexual violence, one must keep in mind that while all sexual assaults are illegal and prohibited, the severity levels do vary and are not differentiated for the purpose of reporting.

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SUPPORTS

Supports provided to all students impacted by sexual violence include a range of options and comprise the following at a minimum:

• Interim measures (separation, change of sections, etc.);

• Counselling – Two social workers on site (CMHA) in Windsor;

• St. Clair College Counselling Services available at the Windsor Main, Chatham, and Downtown Windsor Campuses;

• Referral to and promotion of local supports: Hiatus House https://hiatushouse.com/, Sexual Assault Crisis Centre https://saccwindsor.net/, Victim Services https://vswec.ca/, CK Women’s Centre https://ckwc.ca/, CK Sexual Assault Crisis Centre https://cksacc.org/, CK Victim Services https://ckvictimservices.com/;

• Medical follow-up with college Health Centre;

• Academic accommodations and supports through Student Services;

• Safety plans;

• Follow-up by Sexual Violence Lead;

• Reporting through REES (Respect Educate Empower Survivors) portal.

SEXUAL VIOLENCE PREVENTION (SVP) COMMITTEE

The SVP Committee meets monthly to review initiatives and suggestions towards educating students and the college community about sexual violence prevention. The Sexual Violence Prevention Committee is comprised of representatives from the following areas: Student Safety and Wellness Administrator – Chair; Associate Vice President of Safety, Security and Facilities Management; Director, Student Services; one student representative from the Student Representative Council (SRC); one to three St. Clair College Student Wellness Ambassadors; one student representative from the Thames Student Institute (TSI); one student representative from the Saints Student Athletic Association (SSAA); faculty – counsellors in Student Services, one from Windsor and one from Chatham; one CMHA counsellor; College Resolution Officer; management representatives from both on-campus Residences; a representative from Human Resources; a representative from Marketing; Manager, Health, Safety and Wellness; Tutoring Services administrator.

The mandate of this Committee includes:

• Fostering greater awareness of sexual violence on campus through educational and awareness programs;

• Reviewing and proposing revisions to policy and procedures related to sexual violence, and ensuring that the policy and procedures are reviewed annually;

• Remaining up-to-date on emerging best practices in prevention and support, to make recommendations for the creation of new programs, and/or services where the need arises, or research suggests;

• Ensuring ongoing and appropriate training for faculty, staff, and student leaders;

• Develop strategies and introduce initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of respect and ending sexual violence on campus;

• Receive and review the Annual Report from the AVP related to sexual violence which includes the following information:

– The number of times students requested or received services, support or accommodations following an act of sexual violence, and details on the services, support or accommodation measures requested or received;

– Initiatives and programs introduced to promote awareness of services and support available to students;

– The number and types of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students.

2023-2024 INITIATIVES

• Collaboration and promotion of REES:

– REES (Respect Educate Empower Survivors) is an online reporting portal that allows students to anonymously report sexual violence incidents;

– Students can remain anonymous or connect with the college;

– Students can easily access supports within the community or at the college without having to talk to anyone at the college. They are also able to see our process for reporting sexual misconduct;

– REES provides the college with reports on disclosures at the end of each week;

– REES provides promotional materials for students in both print and digital formats.

• Training:

– The residences located hold training sessions on consent and healthy relationships with students during orientation and throughout the school year;

– Onboarding of Bringing in the Bystander (A Prevention Workshop for Establishing a Culture of Responsibility and Respect) training for both staff/faculty and students; delivered separately. (https://www.soteriasolutions.org/bringing-in-the-bystander);

– Onboarding of EAAA: Flip the Script Sexual Assault Resistance Program for female-identifying students. (https://sarecentre.org/infographic.html);

– Windsor Police Services partnering with Student Safety and Wellness Administrator to host an education session on specific consent;

– Student Wellness Ambassadors hosting information sessions at Gem Residence;

– Hosting self-defense workshops centered around Gender Based Violence;

– Developed two separate sexual misconduct trainings to highlight importance of Bill 26, Strengthening PostSecondary Institutions and Students Act, prioritizing this information by mandating the modules for all staff and students.

AWARENESS

• Student-led groups provided a range of events and opportunities for students to engage in learning about healthy relationships, consent, sexual violence resistance and prevention.

• Growth of social media page (@StClairStudentWellness) to promote awareness and share information regarding on-campus supports, consent culture, and workshops/training opportunities for students.

• Expanding to six Student Ambassadors across all three campuses to facilitate both Flip the Script and Bringing in the Bystander programs through a peer-led model.

• Students also support social media posts and outreach opportunities to engage students in conversations regarding sexual violence, distribute promotional materials, and participate in activities to create sexual violence awareness.

• The Student Ambassadors facilitated educational and awareness campaigns related to consent, positive relationships, sexual violence prevention, mental health, etc.

• Hosted “No More” initiative with outreach booths, fill-in-the-blank signs, and t-shirt decorating for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

COLLABORATION

• Inviting community partners on-site to host information booths in the alcoves (e.g., Hiatus House, Welcome Centre).

• Hosting Safety in Sport event in collaboration with University of Windsor where panelists discussed emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in sport, resources, and supports.

• Developed partnership with Violence Against Women Coordinating Community of Windsor Essex.

• Ongoing consultation with Victim Services.

NEW CERTIFICATE PROVIDES HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTISE

Also at the Board’s May meeting, it approved a recommendation from the college’s administration, to launch a new, online-delivered, certificate-awarding, part-time program in “Accommodation and Human Rights Management”.

St. Clair will handle the enrolment process, receive the tuition payments, and award the certificate; but the online curriculum will be delivered via the OntarioLearn network administered by the province’s two dozen public colleges.

The administration’s presentation to the Board explained that:

Ontario employers are governed by Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The Code imposes a crucial responsibility on employers: the duty to accommodate. This mandate compels employers to make reasonable adjustments or arrangements, up to the point of undue hardship, to meet employees’ needs arising from protected grounds. For example, if an employee has a disability and requests accommodation, employers have an obligation to provide suitable accommodations, such as modifying work-stations, providing additional break time, or altering work arrangements.

Knowledge of workplace rights and accommodations is a key, high-demand industry, with career prospects in Human Rights, Disability Management, Return to Work, Advocacy, and Accommodation.

This aligns with The Path to 2025: Ontario’s Accessibility Action Plan: Partnerships for Accessible Employment. This new initiative aims to build employer awareness of the supports and resources available to business when recruiting, retaining and supporting employees with disabilities by encouraging partnerships between business, not-for-profits, social enterprises, postsecondary institutions, associations and/or service providers.

The Accommodation and Human Rights Management program prepares graduates to work in the field of Accommodation, Human Rights, Disability Management, Return to Work, Advocacy or to continue their academic careers in a variety of fields including Social Science, Law or Human Resources. The course focuses on topics such as Human Rights, Mediation and Alternate Dispute Resolution, Disability Management and Advocacy.  Students will engage in a capstone course that includes a project-based assignment that challenges a real-world scenario in an organization or as an advocate for an individual.

MORE BOARD OF GOVERNORS NEWS AT https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/retiring-president-honoured-board-governors