Ontario universities & colleges to review & amend sexual violence & assault policies

Policies to ensure no ‘irrelevant questions’ are asked by school staff or investigators

Ontario universities and colleges to amend sexual violence polices by Mar. 31.

This article discusses sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424. The Centre’s online chat feature can be reached here.

On Sept. 16, the Ontario government announced that all colleges and universities in the province must update their sexual violence and harassment policies to better support students who bring complaints forward.

The announcement followed the sexual assault and violence allegations at Western University’s orientation week.

According to the provincial government, the policies must ensure students who report sexual violence “will not be disciplined for breaking a school’s rules related to drug and alcohol use” at the time of the incident.

The polices will also need to ensure that “irrelevant questions” will not be asked by school staff or investigators. Such inquires include those concerning past sexual history and sexual expression.

Colleges and universities are required to review their sexual violence policies and amend them by Mar. 31, 2022.

“This past week has been a devastating reminder of the prevalence of sexual- and gender-based violence on our campuses and the work that still needs to be done to protect and support students across the province,” Eunice Oladejo, President of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and Vice-President External Affairs at the University Students’ Council at Western University said in a press release.

Oladejo added that it is “necessary” first step to make sexual violence policies on campus more trauma-informed and survivor-centric.

“Today, the provincial government announced regulatory amendments requiring updates to university and college sexual violence polices,” Mark Erdman, manager of community relations and issues, wrote in an email to The Journal.  

“The revisions made to the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students in December 2020, anticipated and proactively addressed the important elements identified in this announcement.”

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