Responding to Disclosures on Campus

Universities and Colleges in Ontario are Required to:

  • Adopt a sexual assault policy with clearly stated complaint procedures and response protocols (with student input).
  • Provide effective training and prevention programs and services and supports for survivors available 24/7.
  • Report publicly on incidences, initiatives underway and their effectiveness.
  • Make sure that students have information about preventing sexual violence and harassment and are informed of resources and supports.

Bill 132 also amended the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to include similar requirements for Ontario employees. Institutions are expected to outline what steps will be taken to protect the individual who experienced sexual assault and harassment. Some of these measures include suspension, no-contact orders and safety planning.

Regarding Accommodations, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act also requires that every college or university shall; appropriately accommodate the needs of students who are affected by sexual violence (section 1), identify the specific official, office or department that should be contacted to obtain such accommodations (2c), and that students are not required to report an incident of, or make a complaint about, sexual violence in order to obtain the supports and services or the accommodation (2d).

The impacts of all forms of sexual harassment and assault are serious. It should be assumed that this will affect a student’s ability to feel safe in the school environment and to keep up with study demands. Incidents of sexual violence may also result in interrupted earnings, housing, altered travel and other impacts that have financial consequences.

This can also include:

  • options to retake classes, adjust schedules, delay work completion without academic penalty
  • access to various supports – academic, emotional, financial as well as community supports
  • advocacy in order to make sure the accommodations and supports occur and are effective
  • consultation with survivors throughout all processes

It is essential to recognize that survivors are the final decision-makers about their own best interests.

Institutional practices include a variety of campus wide initiatives.

Public Education and Engagement Activities to increase awareness and understanding of sexual violence and promote behavioural change. Some colleges and universities have begun to introduce “bystander campaigns” that support individual and collective responsibility for preventing sexual violence – and coalition building among students, staff, faculty, administration, and community leaders to raise awareness and prevent sexual violence. See the Campus-wide Campaigns section in this training.

Many universities and colleges incorporate discussions about sexual violence into the curricula of disciplines such as psychology, social work and women’s studies. Promoting an awareness of sexual violence in other disciplines, such as engineering, trades and technology, can be done by including it as a topic in workshops and discussions about the workplace.

Reporting and Monitoring/Evaluation of progress is an important activity in all Ontario postsecondary institutions. All employees of colleges and universities should be familiar with the requirements of their institution for reporting. Reporting/communicating with to the relevant person (usually the Sexual Violence Response Advisor) helps to makes sure that the survivor has the maximum resources and advocacy, that responders have support and information and that relevant information is relayed as required for monitoring and evaluation purposes.

Students are encouraged to report incidents of sexual violence, but do not need to formally report incidents of sexual violence to obtain supports, services or accommodation from their institution.

Ontario universities and colleges share several common procedures (see Common Procedures)

Most Ontario postsecondary Institutions suggest that you contact the Sexual Response Advisor at your campus to support the person who has disclosed to you, as well as provide any guidance and information you may need to support the survivor. Many Colleges and Universities require this in their protocol. This person will have a different title depending on the institution. Please see Role of the Sexual Violence Support/Response Person.

Safety First

If a student or employee reports to you an incident of sexual assault or sexual violence you should assess the situation and if you think the student or employee is at risk, contact your campus safety & security services immediately and also contact the Sexual Violence Response Advisor at your Institution.

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