Institutions respond to the Star’s report on sexual assaults

November 25, 2014

In response to the Toronto Star's article on the lack of sexual assault policies on PSE campuses across Canada, 2 Ontario organizations are taking steps to rectify the problem. Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) are launching reviews of existing policies at member institutions in order to determine if individual institutions are properly equipped to effectively deal with sexual assaults on campus. “Our number-one priority right now is to make sure, as fast as we can, that women who have been sexually assaulted know they have a safe place to turn and can immediately find out what to do,” said COU President Bonnie Patterson. Queen’s University and the University of Saskatchewan, both singled out in the Star story for a lack of victim support, have responded as well, apologizing for any failures to support the victims. At Queen’s, Principal Daniel Woolf noted the improvements that have been made in the last several years, including the formation of a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group, which will issue recommendations for enhancing programs and initiatives related to sexual assault. Woolf acknowledged that there is still “much work to do” around this issue. Patti McDougall, VP of Teaching and Learning at uSask, also expressed that uSask has much work to do, in addition to recent initiatives and improvements. McDougall said that administration will be reviewing policies at other universities to see how uSask’s policies can be strengthened. Western University, one of the few institutions to have a standalone sexual assault policy, also issued a statement highlighting available resources for victims. Toronto Star | uSask News | Western News | Queen’s News


Postscript: November 28, 2014

Ontario’s 24 public colleges will work together to create a province-wide, stand-alone policy outlining procedures and resources for victims of campus sexual assault. The college presidents voted unanimously to create the policy during their annual conference this week and will create a task force immediately. The President of Colleges Ontario, Linda Franklin, also said that they would reach out to the province’s universities to discuss the creation of a policy to be used by all PSE institutions in the province. “We all take this very seriously and work is being done to ensure that our colleges and universities can find solutions and work together to share and implement best practices, as one sector,” said a spokesperson for Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. The college presidents hope to have a draft policy ready within a few months. Toronto Star