Ontario Strengthening Supports for Postsecondary Students Reporting Sexual Violence or Harassment
TORONTO – The Ontario government is moving forward with regulatory amendments that will help create a safer environment for students attending all publicly assisted colleges and universities, as well as private career colleges. These changes will require institutions to update their sexual violence and harassment policies in order to shield students from irrelevant questions during sexual violence investigations at institutions and ensure that they can safely bring forward complaints without fear of disciplinary action.
“Our number one priority is the safety of students – everyone should be able to pursue their studies on or off campus without worrying about sexual violence or harassment,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “That’s why our government is working with postsecondary institutions to update their sexual violence and harassment policies to better support students who have already gone through a difficult experience and may be feeling scared and vulnerable.”
These institutions are required to review their sexual violence policies and amend them by March 1, 2022 so that institutions’ sexual violence policies will provide that:
- A complainant acting in good faith, who discloses or reports sexual violence, will not be subject to actions for violations of the institution’s policies related to drug and alcohol use at the time the sexual violence took place.
- During the institution’s investigative process, students who share their experience of sexual violence through disclosing, accessing support, and/or reporting to the university or college, will not be asked irrelevant questions from institution’s staff or investigators, such as those relating to past sexual history or sexual expression.
“Students across Ontario expect a learning environment that is free from sexual harassment, violence and abuse,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “By working together with our colleges, universities and all our partners we will build a better and safer province for everyone.”
This Info sheet aims to magnify the focus on this topic by discussing the societal and environmental factors that contribute to the fear and stigma known to deter many from coming forward to report these incidents and how campus staff can take action to reduce these fears.
Topics explored in this webinar include:
- Defining and contextualizing sexual violence and consent
- Understanding and unpacking ‘rape culture’
- Fear of coming forward: exploring reasons why students don’t report incidents
- Providing the right support: recommendations for staff on campus