Ontario tells universities to update sexual assault investigation policies

Sep 16 2021, 5:55 pm

The Ontario government is ordering colleges and universities to update their sexual violence policies to make the reporting process easier for students who’ve faced sexual harassment or assault.

In a news release issued Thursday, the provincial government said schools can not ask victims “irrelevant questions” during the investigation and must not penalize them for alcohol or drug use at the time of the assault.

Forbidden questions include those about a victims’ past sexual history or their sexual expression.

“Our number one priority is the safety of students – everyone should be able to pursue their studies on or off campus without worrying about sexual violence or harassment,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities

Schools must update their policies to include the required changes by March 31, 2022.

The move comes after multiple reports of alleged sexual assaults were submitted to Western University during orientation week. According to the school, four formal complaints were lodged, and one student was arrested as a result.

At the same time, school officials and police are investigating reports that multiple women were drugged during orientation week parties in campus residences. Although reports of the alleged druggings are widespread on social media, police say no victims have spoken to them yet.

Western University issued a statement Thursday saying it welcomes the new rules around sexual assault reporting coming from the government. It added its policies are already in line with the government’s new requirement.

“Western is focused on addressing the culture of sexual violence on campus and will be sharing more information on further changes we are making to ensure our campus is a safe place for all students and our entire community,” it said in a statement.

Western students are planning a walkout Friday afternoon where they’ll protest against sexual violence on campus. The demonstration is set to take place at 1 pm on Western’s UC Hill.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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