TORONTO - Today, the Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced it would be moving forward with regulatory amendments to Ontario Regulation 131/16 to make post-secondary sexual violence policies more trauma-informed, survivor-centric, and evidence-based.
"This past week has been a devastating reminder of the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence on our campuses and the work that still needs to be done to protect and support students across the province,” said Eunice Oladejo, OUSA President and Vice-President External Affairs at University Students’ Council at Western University. "More needs to be done to address this violence, and OUSA supports the government's regulation changes to make sexual violence policies on campus more trauma-informed and survivor-centric as a necessary first step."
These amendments are a response to OUSA’s calls for the Ontario government to amend Ontario Regulation 131/16 to include all essential aspects of survivor-centric sexual violence policies. The two amendments announced today will ensure that students who bring forward a complaint of sexual and gender-based violence are not punished for lesser policy violations related to drug and alcohol use and will prevent post-secondary institution staff and investigators from asking questions about the complainant’s sexual history or sexual expression. However, as OUSA has yet to see the exact wording of the regulatory amendments, and given the importance of language and nuance, we will be paying close attention to ensure that it is clear that questions about a person’s prior sexual history and sexual expression are not only discriminatory and harmful, but are always irrelevant.
“We are hopeful that these amendments will make reporting sexual and gender-based violence safer for many students, but we know that there is still so much more that we need to ensure students on our campuses can feel safe and pursue their education without fear,” said Nathan R. G. Barnett, OUSA Steering Committee Member and Vice President of University Affairs at the Trent Durham Student Association. “We will continue to advocate to the government that they engage with experts, especially the students and frontline workers who do this work every day, in developing a comprehensive framework to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. We worry that without meaningful and proactive consultation across the sector, the government may form policies that hurt rather than support students.”
To see OUSA’s additional recommendations to prevent and respond to campus sexual and gender-based violence – developed from research contributions from student advocates, students with lived experience, and experts, including the work of Courage to Act on the National draft Framework to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions in Canada – read OUSA’s Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Policy Paper here.
OUSA represents the interests of 150,000 professional and undergraduate, full-time and part-time university students at eight student associations across Ontario. Our vision is for an accessible, affordable, accountable, and high-quality post-secondary education in Ontario.
Communications and Operations Coordinator
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance