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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For more information contact:
U of T Media Relations
Tel: 416-978-0100
media.relations@utoronto.ca