Disciplining sex-assault complainants for violating alcohol policy will no longer be allowed at Ontario colleges and universities
Ontario Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues Jill Dunlop makes an announcement at the daily briefing on COVID-19 at the legislature in Toronto, Thursday, June 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Russell-Pool
TORONTO -- Ontario colleges and universities will no longer be allowed to ask sexual assault complainants irrelevant questions about their sexual history or discipline them for violating an institution’s drug and alcohol policy.
“These amendments will help reduce potential re-traumatization and encourage more survivors to come forward,” Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jill Dunlop said in a news release issued by the Ontario government on Wednesday.
Government officials are proposing these changes to sexual violence and harassment policies at post-secondary intuitions based on recommendations from the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA).
These proposed changes, the government said, are meant to increase campus safety and reduce fear and stigma for students who are coming forward with an allegation of sexual violence or harassment.
Under these amendments, students coming forward with a complaint will not face irrelevant questions about their sexual history and will not be subject to disciplinary actions for violations of an institution’s drug and alcohol use policies at the time the alleged sexual violence took place.
“We know that many instances of sexual violence and harassment on and around campuses go unreported, and often this is because students are afraid of reprisal or concerned that they will not be taken seriously,” Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano said.
“Even one incident of sexual assault, harassment, or any other forms of violence in our communities is one too many. That is why it is so important that there are policies in place that let those affected know they can come forward without fear of reprisal.”
The president of the OUSA, Julia Pereira, said these changes are “one of the many steps necessary to protect and support students who have experienced gender-based violence.”
The requirements for Ontario colleges and universities to adhere to are set out in O. Reg. 131/16, which was first introduced in January 2017. This regulation sets out parameters respecting the content of sexual violence policies at publicly assisted post-secondary institutions.
Consultations on the changes are being held online through March 15 and cover public institutions, as well as private colleges.