Review of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

Review of the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

2021-2022

March – July 2022

Review Co-Chairs Professor Linda Johnston, Dean of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and Allison Burgess, Director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office, have completed the consultation phase and will now work to analyze the themes and principles that emerged.

The Co-Chairs will release their report and recommendations to the University Administration in July. Any resulting policy changes from the Review process will be presented to governance for approval in the fall of 2022.

Final recommendations and details on the relevant policy changes will be added to this website and shared with the U of T community as they are available.

Review Approach

The Review Co-Chairs reached out to student society leaders and other stakeholder groups for feedback during the consultation phase (October 2021-March 2022). Stakeholder groups including staff, faculty, individual students, and University leaders from across the tri-campus community represented diverse areas and backgrounds. Through their feedback, we are gaining a broad understanding of experiences with the Policy.

While the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment (the Policy) is the explicit subject of the review process, other components of the University’s response to sexual violence are considered to be part of the review as well. These include the Student’s Guide to the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, and the supports and services available to the U of T community, including the Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre.

Stakeholders met with the Co-Chairs and/or their delegates in a series of open consultations sessions (detailed below) as well as small group and individual meetings. Feedback was also collected through an online form posted to this consultation website.

Please direct any questions or comments related to the review process to provost@utoronto.ca.

About the Review

The University’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment came into effect on January 1, 2017 and applies to all students, staff, faculty, and librarians. The Policy outlines the University’s response to incidents of sexual violence involving members of the University community and the supports provided for those who have experienced sexual violence. The Policy is an important component of the University’s commitment that all members of the University community should have the ability to study, work, and live in a campus environment free from sexual violence, including sexual harassment.

Section VIII of the Policy states that “the University will conduct a review of this policy every three years that will include members of the University community, including students, staff and faculty, and will amend the Policy as appropriate.” As the last review took place in 2019, the review of the Policy must be completed again in 2022. Please refer here for information on previous reviews.

Due to their expertise in clinical practice, equity, and student services, Professor Linda Johnston, Dean of the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and Allison Burgess, Director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Office, were appointed Co-Chairs of Review’s consultation phase.

Additionally, in September 2021, the Ontario government released a Provincial Announcement and updated regulations (Ontario Regulation 131/16 made under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act) with new requirements for sexual violence policies at publicly assisted colleges and universities. The government requirements are aligned with established practice at U of T under the current Policy. At that time, any technical changes limited to the requirements of the updated government regulations were brought forward to governance for approval.

In his Statement on Recent Concerns Regarding Sexual Violence, University President Meric Gertler requested that the Review expand its mandate to address four additional questions:

  1. What are best practices to address the barriers to reporting and to provide support for survivors?
  2. How do we appropriately account for power dynamics that are inherent in institutions of higher learning?
  3. What information can be shared with participants engaged in, and at the conclusion of, a sexual violence process while taking into account confidentiality, privacy obligations and a fair and effective process?
  4. Should the university sector develop a process for sharing information between institutions about findings of sexual violence misconduct by faculty members? If yes, then how?”

The Consultation Process

In addition to the open consultation sessions detailed below, the Co-Chairs met in closed feedback sessions with representatives of student advocacy groups and staff from various offices, administrators, frontline workers to gain feedback on their experiences with the Policy. A full list of those consulted will be available in the Report. Feedback was also collected via an online form.

Open Consultation Sessions (February 7 – March 4)

The Review Co-Chairs hosted a total of 12 open consultation sessions for all U of T Community Members. In following public health guidance, all scheduled sessions were held virtually on Zoom with closed captioning available.

Separate sessions were held for students, faculty, and staff & librarians at each campus. Additionally, sessions were hosted for Black, Indigenous, and Racialized communities, 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and for Persons with Lived Experiences of disability to provide an opportunity for the Review Co-Chairs to hear a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. During the 90-minute sessions, participants:

  • Learned about the background of and process for the Review
  • Shared their thoughts on the existing Policy and opportunities for improvement
  • Listened to and engaged with feedback from other participants

Participants were invited to actively participate in four ways:

  1. Respond to interactive questions asked by the Review Co-Chairs
  2. Submit questions to a moderated Q&A
  3.  Share feedback directly on mike or on camera
  4. Engage with session content via the chat function

Counsellors were available during each session for any participant who required support. Additional resources can be found anytime at https://uoft.me/SeekSupport

Online Feedback Form

The online feedback form closed at the end of the consultation period on March 7, 2022.