- The Purpose of this policy is to make clear the university’s commitment to addressing sexual violence in its community through survivor support, awareness, education, training and prevention programs, and the appropriate handling of reports/complaints of incidents of sexual violence.
- Sexual Violence is a serious problem in our society and on university campuses. Acts of sexual violence have a significant impact on survivors, their friends and family members, and on those who works closely with survivors as supporters, advocates and educators. Sexual violence is a complex issue that needs attention and intervention throughout our society and within our institutions, especially given the prevalence of sexual assault on college and university campuses. It is the most underreported criminal activity and we know through many sources that the number of disclosed or reported incidents on campuses do not reflect the true number of assaults faced by members of our community. This policy is intended to outline commitments to raise awareness and educate about sexual violence, to prevent sexual violence, to reduce the risk of sexual violence incidents, to promote a consent culture, and to respond to the needs of survivors in our community for support and empowerment.
III. Scope or Application and Scope
- This policy applies to all members of the Ryerson community.
- Sexual Violence: Any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This includes, but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, degrading sexual imagery, distribution of sexual images or video of a community member without their consent, and cyber harassment or cyber stalking of a sexual nature.
- Sexual Assault: Any kind of sexual contact without mutual consent. It can include unwanted kissing, fondling, oral or anal sex, intercourse, or other forms of penetration, or any other unwanted act of a sexual nature.
- Sexual Harassment: A course of unwanted remarks, behaviours, or communications of a sexually oriented nature and/or a course of unwanted remarks, behaviours or communications based on gender – where the person responsible for the remarks, behaviours or communications knows or ought reasonably to know that these are unwelcome. Sexual harassment may consist of unwanted attention of a sexually oriented nature such as personal questions about one’s sex life, persistent requests for a “date”, or unwelcome remarks about someone’s hair, body shape, etc. Sexual harassment may also consist of unwelcome remarks based on gender which are not of a sexual nature but which are demeaning such as derogatory gender based jokes or comments.
- Consent: An active, direct, voluntary, unimpaired and conscious choice and agreement between adults to engage in physical contact or sexual activity.
- Rape Culture: A culture in which dominant ideas, social practices, media images, and societal institutions implicitly or explicitly condone sexual assault by normalizing or trivializing sexual violence and by blaming survivors for their own abuse.
- Survivor: An individual who has experienced sexual violence.
- First Responder: The person to whom the survivor initially disclosed. This could be a friend, staff member of faculty member. They may be significantly affected by the disclosure of sexual violence and may also be in need of support.
- Person Accused: A person who has been accused of committing sexual violence.
- Sexual Violence Survivor Advocate: A volunteer support person who has received extensive training in working with survivors of sexual violence who will be able to provide individual support and referral to other resources.
- Disclosure: When someone discloses to a campus official that they have experience sexual violence.
- Report/Complaint: A formal report or complaint of an incident of sexual violence for the purposes of initiating some form of investigation or adjudication on or off campus.
1. Sexual Violence and Identity
Ryerson University is an extremely diverse community and every effort to address issues of sexual violence needs to be grounded in an understanding that each person’s experience will be affected by many factors such as their sex, ancestry, race, ethnicity, language, ability, faith, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We must acknowledge that some acts of sexual violence are also acts of sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, or transphobia.
2. Awareness, Prevention, Education and Training
The Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support will work with on and off campus partners including, but not limited to, student organizations, Student Affairs staff, Academic departments, Human Resources, the Teaching and Learning Office, the EDI Office and Security and Emergency Services to develop an annual education strategy that includes campaigns, training sessions, workshops, print and online resources, programs and events on a breadth of topics related to sexual violence on campus – topics such as rape culture, consent culture, sexual assault awareness, how to seek support, resources for survivors, advice and resources for first responders, etc. The audience for these efforts would include staff, faculty, students and visitors to our campus. A particular emphasis will be placed on educating new members of the Ryerson community about this issue through student, staff and faculty orientation activities.
Faculties and departments are encouraged to include education related to rape culture and sexual violence in course materials and program curriculum where appropriate.
3. Parameters of Consent
The University through the efforts of the Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support and its partners will work to promote a consent culture on campus including promotion of the following principles related to consent:
a. Consent is active, not passive or silent
b. It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in physical contact or sexual activity to make sure that they have consent from the other person(s) involved.
c. Consent to one sexual act does not constitute or imply consent to a different sexual act.
d. Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship status or sexual history together.
e. Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs or who is unconscious or otherwise lacks the capacity to give consent.
f. If a survivor’s judgement is impaired, consent is not valid.
g. Impaired judgement that leads an assailant to think or believe there was consent is not an excuse.
4. Survivor Support
a. All members of the Ryerson community (staff, faculty and students) should expect to receive support through the appropriate office if they have experienced sexual violence. Detailed information about on- and off campus supports will be provided on a dedicated Sexual Violence Education and Support website.
b. Survivors should be able to access support regardless of when, where or by whose hand they experienced an incident of sexual violence.
c. The Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support will work with individual survivors in determining their support and/or workplace and academic accommodation needs and assist them in accessing these.
d. Survivors need only to disclose their experience to seek support and will not be required or pressured to make a formal report or complaint. In some very rare cases the university may be required to take some action without the survivor’s consent (see section 5 on confidentiality below). If this is necessary individuals affected would be fully informed and supported at every step of any process.
e. Survivors have the right to determine what and how much they choose to disclose or report about their experience and to decide whether to report to police and/or Ryerson Security.
5. Formal Reporting / Complaint Options for Survivors
Survivors of sexual violence have options for filing a formal report/complaint in response to an incident of sexual violence. Staff and advocates from the Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support can assist survivors in understanding each of these options and in ensuring that they have all the information that they need in order to make an appropriate decision on next steps. Detailed information about options and what to expect for all parties, survivors and persons accused, will be provided on a dedicated Sexual Violence Education and Support website. Some options will depend on the community status of the survivor and/or the person accused. All processes must follow principles of natural justice and must appropriately protect the rights of both the survivor and the person accused. Reporting options include but are not limited to:
a. Criminal Option – reports/complaints can be made to the police in an effort to pursue criminal charges under the Criminal Code of Canada
b. Non-Criminal On-campus option
§ Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy
§ Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct
§ The Residence Community Standards Process
§ Reports/Complaints can also be made to the Manager in a workplace along with HR and Faculty Affairs depending on the parties involved.
Ensuring confidentiality is a key principle in creating an environment and culture where survivors feel safe to disclose and seek support and accommodation. The university is committed ensuring such an environment and culture exists. There are, however, limits to the confidentiality that can be assured under certain circumstances such as:
a. An individual is judged to be at imminent risk of self-harm.
b. An individual is judged to be at imminent risk of harming another.
c. Reporting or action is required by law.
d. Evidence of sexual violence is available in the public realm (e.g. video shared publicly on social media)
7. Maintenance of Statistics
The Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support will maintain annual statistics on disclosed and reported incidents of sexual violence on campus for the purposes of community education and any legislated reporting that may be required. This data would not include any information that would identify any community member.
VI. Roles and Responsibilities
- Maintain and communicate an ongoing commitment to seriously address the issue of sexual violence on university campuses
Vice Provost, Students
- Provide an organizational home of the Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support.
- Oversight of the operation of the Student Conduct Office and Student Code of Non-Academic Conduct
- Work in close partnership with the Vice Provost/AVP, EDI and the Assistant Vice President, HR on the interpretation and application of this policy.
Vice Provost, Assistant Vice President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
- Work in close partnership with the Vice Provost, Students and the Assistant Vice President, HR on the interpretation and application of this policy.
- Oversight of the operation of the DHPS Office and Discrimination and Harassment policy.
Assistant Vice President, Human Resources
- Work in close partnership with the Vice Provost/AVP, EDI and the Vice Provost, Students on the interpretation and application of this policy.
- Ensure that appropriate supports are in place for survivors who are employees of the institution through HR benefits, programs and EAP.
- Work with HR consultants and Managers and Supervisors to support workplace accommodations required in response to incidents of sexual violence at Ryerson.
Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs
- Work in close partnership with the Vice Provost/AVP, EDI, the Vice Provost, Students and the Assistant Vice President Human Resources on the interpretation and application of this policy.
- Ensure appropriate supports are in place for survivors who are academic staff of the institution, liaising with Human Resources regarding available programs or offerings that will assist survivors
- Work with Deans, Chairs and Directors and Human Resources to support workplace accommodations required in response to incidents of sexual violence at Ryerson.
Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support
- Oversee the day to day implementation and operation of this policy as outlined in the office’s mandate and job descriptions
- Develop and implement with on and off campus partners the awareness, prevention, education and training strategy
- Recruit, select, train and dispatch at team of Sexual Violence Survivor Advocates
Director, Integrated Risk Management
- Through Security and Emergency Services provide appropriate services and supports such as safety planning, assisting survivors who chose to reporting to police, referral of community members to the Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support, assisting DHPS, HR, Student Conduct Officer and Housing with investigations and application of sanctions where appropriate.
- Ensure that the appropriate supports are in place for survivors who are students through the many units within Student Affairs including the Medical Centre, Centre for Student Development and Counselling, Housing and Residence Life etc.
Faculty and Academic Departments
- Cooperate to the extent possible with students or their advocates as they attempt to seek academic accommodation in the face of incidents of sexual violence and their aftermath.
All members of the University community
- Participate in education and training programs where appropriate especially those designed for “first responders”.
- Refer survivors to the Office of Sexual Violence Education and Support
This policy falls under the jurisdiction of Provost and Vice President, Academic and the Vice President, Administration and Finance. The interpretation and application of this policy is the responsibility of the Vice Provost, Students, the Assistant Vice President, Human Resources, the Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs and the Assistant Vice President/Vice Provost, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
VIII. Policy Review
After an initial review in Fall 2016, this policy will be reviewed every four years with extensive community consultation, including in particular students.