The Ontario government is proposing changes to sexual violence policies at post-secondary schools across the province that could provide greater protection to students.
“It was promising to see that the Provincial government is proposing several changes to Ontario Regulation 131/16 based directly from Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) advocacy and recommendations,” Alexia Henriques, AMS vice-president (student affairs), told The Journal.
The Ontario Regulation 131/16 was introduced January 2017 by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) to establish a common standard and minimum requirement for sexual violence policies at post-secondary institutions.
Now, the MCU is proposing two new requirements be added to the regulation.
The first proposal asks that individuals who disclose or report instances of sexual violence that took place while they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol not be subjected to the institution’s policies related to substance use.
The second proposal would prevent an institution’s staff or investigators from asking irrelevant questions to students who share their experience of sexual violence through disclosing, accessing support, or reporting to the institution.
Under this requirement, universities wouldn’t be able to ask questions related to past sexual history or sexual expression.
“This is a good first step in ensuring that all post-secondary institutions across the province are making necessary changes to their Sexual Violence policies and reporting systems, to ensure they are more survivor-centric,” Henriques said.
She said Queen’s has already implemented some of the proposed changes, including adding a substance use amnesty provision to the Sexual Violence Policy Involving Queen’s Students that was passed in December and maintaining an active Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force through the Division of Student Affairs.
“We strongly encourage the University to take these new proposed government recommendations and strive to do better for our students, and to be proactive in the sector,” Henriques said.
“We need more on-campus, intersectional, trauma-informed support for survivors now. We also need more effective means of prevention through mandating campus-wide training on our policy and on consent.”
She said the AMS will continue to work with OUSA and the Queen’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force on the suggestions brought forth.
The Society will also provide feedback during the consultation period that is open now until March 15.
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