Media Releases

Action plan on sexual violence prevention and support at U of T

April 5, 2016

“We need to do better, we can do better, we will do better”

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is cre­at­ing a new Sex­u­al Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion and Sup­port Cen­tre with loca­tions on all three cam­pus­es, part of a series of mea­sures to improve safe­ty and co-ordi­nate ser­vices.

The mea­sures are out­lined in an action plan released April 5 by Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler and Vice-Pres­i­dent and Provost Cheryl Regehr that accepts all five of the rec­om­men­da­tions made by the Pres­i­den­tial and Provos­tial Com­mit­tee on Pre­ven­tion and Response to Sex­u­al Vio­lence.

Read the plan

“Peo­ple need to feel safe on our cam­pus­es,” Gertler said. “The Uni­ver­si­ty is com­mit­ted to doing every­thing pos­si­ble to cre­ate that safe envi­ron­ment and to make sure the right sup­ports are avail­able.”

The provost said the new plan “ful­ly endors­es both the rec­om­men­da­tions and the prin­ci­ples” out­lined by the com­mit­tee. Its steps include the cre­ation of a new posi­tion. The Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Per­son­al Safe­ty, High Risk and Sex­u­al Vio­lence Pre­ven­tion & Sup­port will over­see sex­u­al vio­lence pre­ven­tion and response ini­tia­tives, and take the lead on com­mu­ni­ty safe­ty and high-risk mat­ters.

Oth­er high­lights of the plan include a new stand-alone pol­i­cy on sex­u­al vio­lence and a tri-cam­pus Sex­u­al Vio­lence Cli­mate Sur­vey.

“We will not tol­er­ate sex­u­al vio­lence and we will work to improve both our pre­ven­tion and our response efforts, guid­ed by experts and with input from mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty,” Regehr said.

“We need to do bet­ter, we can do bet­ter, we will do bet­ter.”

Estab­lished in Novem­ber 2014 by Gertler and Regehr, the Pres­i­den­tial and Provos­tial Com­mit­tee on Pre­ven­tion and Response to Sex­u­al Vio­lence was chaired by Vice-Pres­i­dent Human Resources & Equi­tyAngela Hild­yard and Vice-Provost Stu­dents Sandy Welsh (replac­ing for­mer Vice-Provost Jill Matus), and includ­ed stu­dents, staff and fac­ul­ty from all three U of T cam­pus­es. The com­mit­tee sub­mit­ted its report ear­li­er this year.

Read about the com­mit­tee’s report 

The action plan released Tues­day calls for the new cen­tre to be respon­si­ble for sup­port ser­vices for those affect­ed by sex­u­al vio­lence and for train­ing those who take dis­clo­sures and share after-hours on-call ser­vices. The U of T Sex­u­al Harass­ment Office will be incor­po­rat­ed into the new cen­tre, which also will work with com­mu­ni­ty part­ners and is expect­ed to have a phys­i­cal pres­ence on all three cam­pus­es by the begin­ning of next year.

As part of the plan, the Uni­ver­si­ty will also cre­ate a new stand-alone pol­i­cy on sex­u­al vio­lence. This work will be led by Fac­ul­ty of Law pro­fes­sor and Trin­i­ty Col­lege Provost Mayo Moran.

Pro­fes­sor Moran will chair an expert pan­el, which will pro­vide advice on a new draft pol­i­cy and review exist­ing poli­cies and prac­tices. This small group of experts will con­sult and offer advice in two areas:  the report­ing process for sex­u­al vio­lence cas­es and the inves­ti­ga­tion, res­o­lu­tion and adju­di­ca­tion process for these cas­es.

As rec­om­mend­ed by the com­mit­tee, the new cen­tre will not be respon­si­ble for the inves­ti­ga­tion and adju­di­ca­tion process.  The report found the divi­sion of respon­si­bil­i­ties is impor­tant to ensure sup­port for those affect­ed by sex­u­al vio­lence while pro­tect­ing due process and pro­ce­dur­al fair­ness.

The new pol­i­cy will go before U of T’s Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil this fall. New provin­cial law requires that the pol­i­cy be in place by Jan­u­ary 2017.

The uni­ver­si­ty also is tak­ing the fol­low­ing steps as part of its com­mit­ment to imple­ment all of the committee’s rec­om­men­da­tions:

  • Devel­op­ing clear, con­cise infor­ma­tion about sup­ports and ser­vices avail­able to mem­bers of the Uni­ver­si­ty com­mu­ni­ty;
  • Co-ordi­nat­ing and updat­ing edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams for all mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty, with Pro­fes­sor Gretchen Kerr, act­ing dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy & Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion, lead­ing an expert pan­el on this ini­tia­tive;
  • Devel­op­ing a tri-cam­pus Sex­u­al Vio­lence Cli­mate Sur­vey to cre­ate com­mon mea­sures for insti­tu­tion­al data col­lec­tion, with Vice-Provost Welsh lead­ing an advi­so­ry board on this ini­tia­tive. In doing this the Uni­ver­si­ty will take its lead from new leg­is­la­tion from the Ontario gov­ern­ment and the Min­istry of Train­ing, Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties.


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