Ontario universities reaffirm commitment to addressing sexual violence and supporting survivors

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Ontario universities reaffirm commitment to addressing sexual violence and supporting survivors

TORONTO, ON – Ontario’s universities are committed to ensuring student safety by addressing the issue of sexual violence, and believe the results of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey will serve as an important stepping stone toward continuing to make our students feel as safe, secure and supported as possible.

Sexual violence is a serious problem that affects society as a whole. Universities believe that reducing sexual violence requires an integrated approach, with partnerships across educational institutions, student associations, government agencies, community organizations and service providers.

Ontario’s universities have policies and processes in place on sexual violence, and strongly condemn all forms of sexual violence or harassment. They offer a wide range of support services to ensure that those affected by sexual violence get the help they need.

The top-line results released today are of great concern and demonstrate that more needs to be done. Universities are committed to working with government, our partners in the sector and the community to ensure that our campuses are safe environments in which to learn, live and work, and that students have access to high-quality supports. We look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the complete survey results and to formalizing our campus processes when dealing with sexual violence.

“The survey results will give universities highly useful insights,” said Sandy Welsh of the University of Toronto, who leads the Ontario Universities’ Reference Group on Sexual Violence. “We’ll work in partnership with students to use these findings to make improvements in areas such as prevention, how we handle reported incidents and how supports are provided to those who experience sexual violence.

“Sexual violence is a societal issue, and universities are committed to addressing it and to ensuring we provide students with the help and supports they need.”

As part of ongoing efforts to address sexual violence, Ontario’s universities have outlined an integrated approach to addressing the issue of sexual violence. In a 10-Point Plan, universities are working to further strengthen their on-campus support and prevention programs, and indicate how universities and government can work together to reduce incidents of sexual violence and to support students.

Universities Are:

  • Educating students by integrating outreach and awareness programming around sexual violence into first-year orientations
  • Offering crisis counselling to survivors of sexual violence
  • Promoting free, confidential and around-the-clock mental health support to students in crisis through the Good2Talk initiative
  • Ensuring students, staff and faculty have free access to Walk Safe programs
  • Training residence assistants and other on-campus support staff to provide accurate information, resources and meaningful support to survivors of sexual violence

Government Can:

  • Expand funding provided in the Women’s Campus Safety Grant program so that on-campus counsellors and other campus resources are best equipped to support victims
  • Commit to developing and implementing sexual violence training and prevention programs at every level of education, including early outreach for elementary and secondary students with a focus on attitudes, relationships and consent
  • Extend Smart Serve Ontario to include sexual violence training and prevention programming
  • Continue to fund local and community-based sexual assault services across Ontario and work with postsecondary institutions and community organizations to expand access to integrated resources in order to ensure coordinated, seamless supports for students
  • Encourage close working relationships with postsecondary, community partners and across ministries in order to develop and implement a coordinated strategy and set of best practices for the prevention of sexual violence


COU is the voice of Ontario’s universities, promoting the value of education, research and innovation that leads to social, cultural and economic success.

ontariosuniversities.ca | cou.ca | Follow us: @OntUniv

For further information, please contact:

Simon Beck
Senior Media Relations Officer
Council of Ontario Universities
416-979-2165 ext. 238
416-453-1754 (cell)
Email Simon Beck

Tags: Sexual Violence