Very few Canadian universities have sexual assault policies

November 21, 2014

As our neighbours to the south continue to implement and strengthen sexual assault policies on campuses and in legislation, Canada’s PSE sector has a lot of work to do to catch up, according to a new investigative report by the Toronto Star. Only 9 institutions out of more than 100 contacted by the Star have a dedicated sexual assault policy in place, although some of the institutions surveyed did have a clause or section of the general Student Code of Conduct that dealt with harassment or sexual assault. A number of women were interviewed about their experiences after a sexual assault on campus or by another student, with more than one claiming that the university failed to properly support them. With so few sexual assault allegations resulting in charges through the justice system, there is no reason why PSE institutions “can’t adjudicate sexual assault complaints or operate parallel to criminal investigations, as long as the process is fair and careful,” said Wayne MacKay, a human rights lawyer and former President of Mt Allison University, who led the recent task force in charge of developing the new sexual assault policy at St Mary’s University. One recent study by METRAC into how universities handle sexual assaults found that a lack of a clear policy prevented victims from coming forward; METRAC’s Executive Director Wendy Komiotis stated that the government has “a responsibility to create legislation” that would result in comprehensive policies at all institutions, similar to Title IX in the US. Toronto Star | METRAC Report