Principal apologizes after Hamilton, Ont. school makes dress code announcement amid sexual assault investigation
TORONTO -- The principal of a Hamilton, Ont. high school has apologized after making an announcement about the female dress code just days after police began investigating sexual assaults related to the school.
Three days ago, Hamilton police confirmed they were investigating several reports of sexual assault and harassment connected to Waterdown District High School, located near Parkside Drive and Hamilton Street.
Students say during Thursday’s announcements, they were reminded to adhere to a dress code that would see them cover their shoulders and stomachs.
“It felt as if they were telling us it was our fault,” Waterdown student Sophie Vivian told CP24 Friday night.
In a letter sent to parents on Thursday, Principal Theresa Sgambato says “the timing of the announcement was insensitive to the ongoing concerns about sexual assault.”
“We are sorry and wish to apologize to anyone who interpreted this announcement as being unsupportive of victims of sexual assault or abuse,” the letter, obtained by CP24, said. “We vigorously denounce victim blaming. Sexual assault has nothing to do with what someone wears.”
Vivian does not accept that the school got its timing wrong.
“I honestly don’t believe that,” she said of the school’s explanation. “They could have made it in the last two weeks, the beginning of the year, or even waited a few weeks.”
On Friday Vivian helped organize a walkout at the school, saying that the goal was to empower any victims of sexual assault and harassment as well as show that the dress code needs to be updated to apply to both boys and girls.