The Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey, by the numbers

Journal staff break down the results of the province's survey on campus sexual violence

Disparities between Queen's internal data on sexual violence and results of a provincial survey conducted in 2018, illustrate a gap in students accessing services.
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During the winter of 2018, more than 100,000 Ontario students completed a survey about sexual violence. A year later, the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities published a summary report of the results.

Along with students from 19 other universities in the province, Queen’s students responded to questions about their experience with sexual harassment and non-consensual sexual violence. Students also answered questions about bystander behaviour and knowledge of sexual violence supports, services, or reporting procedures.

While 61.6 per cent of 1,788 Queen’s student responses claimed satisfaction with the University’s response to sexual violence, 57.9 per cent of 34,918 student responses claimed no knowledge of sexual violence supports, services, or reporting procedures.

Out of 20 universities, Queen’s also ranked second-highest for students who reported experiencing sexual harassment and fourth-highest for non-consensual sexual violence, yet in comparison, the University’s internal report showed significantly lower numbers of students reporting those experiences. 

Using data from the province’s summary report and Queen’s new internal sexual violence statistics, we look at the gap between the number of respondents who disclosed experiencing sexual violence and how many formal complaints ended up being lodged.

 

Published on Feb. 20 of this year, the Board of Trustees received its first-ever internal sexual violence report from the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs and the Office of Human Rights and Equity.

According to the report, from Sept. 1 of 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018, fewer than 100 students sought support from the Office of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator.

Only 31 formal complaints were made.

In contrast, thousands of Queen’s students reported experiencing different kinds of sexual violence in the Ministry’s survey.

 

 

Queen’s ranked second out of 20 universities for highest percentage of students who reported experiencing sexual harassment.

Roughly 5,009 out of 7,016 Queen’s students—71.4 per cent—reported undergoing sexual harassment on the survey, yet the University only received 22 formal complaints of sexual harassment from Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018. 

 

 

Out of 20 universities, Queen’s had the highest percentage of students—roughly 5,988 out of 6,979—who reported witnessing sexual violence or potential for sexual violence.

Approximately 4,962 Queen’s students also reported intervening in incidents of sexual violence or potential for sexual violence, while roughly 991 reported not getting involved.

The University sector as a whole had a 75.1 per cent response rate of students reporting witnessing incidents of or potential for sexual violence, with individual institutional percentages ranging from 67.6 to 85.8.

Queen’s established a Bystander Intervention training program in 2015, which aims to provide educational sessions about intervention to students, faculty, and staff.

The program was implemented by the Queen’s International Affairs Association (QIAA)—one of the largest clubs on campus—following three terminations for sexual harassment in 2016-2017, as previously reported by The Journal.

In response to issues of sexual harassment, QIAA established a sexual harassment and assault policy, which mandated Bystander Intervention training for every person in the club of more than 250 members.

 

 

Out of 20 universities, Queen’s had the fourth-highest percentage of student respondents—roughly 2,160 out of 7,016—who reported experiencing non-consensual sexual violence. Queen’s only received 13 formal complaints of sexual assault from Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.

Out of all Ontario universities, 26,824 out of 116,627 students reported experiencing incidents of non-consensual sexual violence.

Following the release of the survey results, the Ford government mandated universities develop task forces made up of “diverse student representatives” which will be “devoted to tackling sexual violence on campus.”

Principal Daniel Woolf commissioned Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs, to transition the Queen’s Sexual Violence and Prevention Working Group into a task force.

The task forces will be required to report findings to both the University and the Ministry.

 

The survey asked students to indicate their level of agreement with statements like “I understand how to access supports” and “I understand the formal reporting options at my university.”

Nearly 60 per cent of respondents at Queen’s disagreed with the survey’s statements.

In 2015, Queen’s renewed its effort to educate incoming students about sexual violence. According to the University, since new education measures have been implemented, more than 2,500 students per year participate in student-led Bystander Intervention Training.

However, a lawsuit filed last year by a former Queen’s student alleged that, prior to 2015, the University failed to educate students about sexual assault.

The plaintiff—who was allegedly sexually assaulted in a Victoria Hall residence room in 2014—claimed Queen’s “did not have adequate policies in place to protect victims of sexual assault on campus,” and that “the University failed to have adequate information or education for students on sexual assault.”

Queen’s denied any liability for the incidents in a statement of defence.

Looking forward

While the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities released some of the survey’s results in the summary report, it has not published all of the data, citing privacy concerns. 

In a March 21 email to The Journal, Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs, said once the University gets more detailed data, it will be able to “respond in the most meaningful way. 

After the Ontario government passed Bill 132 in 2016, universities were required to implement sexual violence policies which would be revised every three years.

The first deadline for amended policies was Jan. 1, 2020, but following the release of the survey’s results, the provincial government mandated universities must have their updated policies in place by this September. Ideally, institutions would be able to take the survey’s results into consideration while reviewing their current policies.

The Ministry released its summary report of the survey’s results on March 19, 2019. On the same day, the University’s updated sexual violence policy was already available online for community comment.

The Ministry has not revealed when it will provide the rest of the data to institutions, and the data that has been released was months behind promised publication.

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