Policy 42 - Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence

The policies found on the website of the Secretariat are compulsory rules for the University community. The authoritative copies of the policies are held by the Secretariat and bear the seal of the University. The online version accessible through the website of the Secretariat is available for information purposes only. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the authoritative copy held by the Secretariat , the authoritative copy shall prevail. Please contact the Secretariat for assistance if necessary.

Established: 1 January 2017

Revised:

4 June 2019
Mandatory Review Date: 4 June 2021
Class: G
Responsible/Originating Department:

Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion

Executive Contact:

Associate Vice-President, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion

Related Policies, Guidelines & Procedures:

1. ​Policy 33 – Ethical Behaviour
2. Policy 34 – Health, Safety and Environment
3. Policy 71 – Student Discipline
4. Policy 72 – Student Appeals
5. The Sexual Violence Response Protocol and Procedures

Capitalized terms used in this Policy have the meaning assigned to them in Appendix A.

This Policy and the related Response Protocol and Procedures applies to students. Complaints made against University employees are managed under Policy 33, Ethical Behaviour or Policy 34, Health Safety and Environment; see Section 2, Scope. Notwithstanding, the University has committed resources within the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion for all members of the University Community.

1. Introduction 

The University is committed to fostering a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all community members. In that respect, members of the University Community play an important role in promoting a safe and respectful environment where the impact of Sexual Violence is understood and actions are taken aimed at preventing Sexual Violence and supporting students affected by Sexual Violence.

The University provides education and support to members of the University Community to raise awareness about Sexual Violence and assists University Community members who have been affected by it. The University promotes a Consent culture and provides administrative processes for students to address their Complaints of Sexual Violence.

The University of Waterloo is committed to implementing a comprehensive Sexual Violence prevention framework, which includes:

  • Awareness
  • Education
  • Training
  • Services and supports

The University shall provide Sexual Violence Resource Coordinators (SVRCs) to support students who are affected by Sexual Violence. These persons will be key resources to coordinate the provision of support and referral to students who Disclose, make a Complaint, or Report Sexual Violence, or are Respondents, and will be separate from the investigative function. The University shall provide a resource to investigate Complaints of Sexual Violence and shall ensure there are different resource persons for Complainants and Respondents.

The SVRCs are a central resource for students who have experienced, been impacted by, or are accused of Sexual Violence. The SVRCs are also resources for a Complainant when the Respondent is a University of Waterloo student but the Complainant is not. The SVRCs will assist by providing guidance on where to find support, making referrals to counselling and medical services both on and off campus, discussing potential next steps (both formal and informal), safety planning, and navigating University procedures. The SVRCs will inform the individual who is affected by Sexual Violence about the level of confidentiality that can be expected before Disclosure takes place. The SVRCs will advise individuals providing assistance to maintain confidentiality in accordance with the Response Protocol and Procedures.

Students who are affected by Sexual Violence are encouraged to contact the SVRCs directly. Further, anyone who has received a Disclosure of Sexual Violence is encouraged to contact the SVRCs for assistance. The SVRCs are trained to understand and support individuals affected by Sexual Violence.

The SVRCs are resources to all members of the University Community.

2. Scope 

This Policy and the related Response Protocol and Procedures applies to students. Complaints made against University employees are managed under Policy 33, Ethical Behaviour or Policy 34, Health Safety and Environment. With respect to the adjudication of Complaints made under this policy, the scope includes incidents of Sexual Violence:

  • where the Respondent is a University of Waterloo student and:
  • which take place on University land and premises either rented or owned, or
  • use University-owned or run Property or equipment including, but not limited to, telephones, computers and computer networks, or
  • incidents of Sexual Violence that occur off campus when the incident is part of a University of Waterloo course or organized class activity; when the incident is part of a University of Waterloo event that has been defined as such; or when the likely consequences of the incident may adversely affect the Complainant’s course of learning, teaching, work, or living at the University.

In addition to all Complainants and Respondents, all persons who are not members of the University Community (including visitors, contractors and others) but who are affected by Sexual Violence occurring on University Property or at an activity under the auspices of the University are encouraged to consult with the Sexual Violence Response Coordinators (SVRCs). The SVRCs will assist any of these individuals by connecting them with available community support resources.

Sexual Harassment is part of the continuum of Sexual Violence and is of great concern to the University and members of the University Community. Sexual Harassment is included in the definition of Sexual Violence appearing in Appendix A of this Policy; it is also addressed with other types of harassment, under Policy 33, Ethical Behaviour. Any University Community member who has been sexually harassed may seek support from the SVRCs. Complainants will be provided with assistance in determining how this Policy and Policy 33 may be engaged in situations where Sexual Harassment is also alleged to have occurred.

The pursuit of criminal, civil or other legal actions or remedies remains available to students despite any action taken pursuant to this Policy.

Complaints made under this Policy which follow on-campus Reporting shall have the following path. The person to whom the Complaint will be given is normally the Associate Dean, Undergraduate or Graduate Studies of the student’s Faculty. The Associate Dean shall follow the procedure described in University of Waterloo Policy 71, Student Discipline.

Appeals for any disciplinary measures resulting from alleged infringements of this Policy may be appealed under the grievance and appeals processes for students (Policy 70 – Petitions and Grievances, and Policy 72 – Student Appeals).

3. Legal Framework 

In addition to the abovementioned “Related Policies and Agreements”, the policy will be construed in accordance with applicable law, in particular:

  • Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.19
  • Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31;
  • Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19;
  • The University of Waterloo Act 1972, S.O., 1972, c. 200.
  • Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016, S.O. 2016, c.2

If any of these legal provisions are modified, abrogated, superseded, or added to, the policy will be interpreted in accordance with the new legal framework.

 4. Purpose

This Policy establishes the University’s commitment to the awareness of and prevention of Sexual Violence and to a process for addressing Complaints of Sexual Violence. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the University and members of the University Community. The associated Response Protocol and Procedures details supports and resources available for those affected by Sexual Violence and includes options for Disclosing, seeking interim measures, Reporting and pursuing Complaints related to Sexual Violence.

5. Principles and Commitments

The following principles and commitments guide the implementation of this Policy:

    1. The University encourages students who have been affected by Sexual Violence to seek support. Sexual Violence will not be tolerated; individuals found in violation of this or related policies will be held accountable for their actions.
    2. The University recognizes that some individuals and those impacted by Sexual Violence may be reluctant to come forward. One of these factors may be a fear of being sanctioned for alcohol or other substance use. The University seeks to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable Disclosing and submitting a Complaint about incidents of Sexual Violence without fear of punishment or reprisal due to alcohol or other substance use. To this end, the University will ensure that those needing support will be fully informed of the options available to them, and the risks and benefits associated therein.
    3. It is a breach of this Policy to engage in any act of Reprisal against a Complainant, a Respondent, any witness, or anyone else pursuing a right or remedy or participating in a proceeding pursuant to this Policy and/or the Sexual Violence Response Protocol and Procedures.
    4. The University is committed to providing interim measures to support the needs of students affected by Sexual Violence and has developed a set of protocols and procedures for providing support in the Sexual Violence Response Protocol and Procedures. All individuals involved in the implementation of this policy, including implementation of interim measures, shall act in good faith.
    5. Individual experiences of Sexual Violence are affected by factors including, but not limited to, age, ancestry, racialization, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ability, gender identity and gender expression. The student’s identity is a key consideration at all times. Further, the University’s initiatives aimed at raising awareness and addressing Sexual Violence will be designed with the diversity of the University Community in mind.
    6. The University understands that Sexual Violence can have a serious impact on a student’s physical and psychological wellbeing. Students who Disclose, make a Complaint, or Report Sexual Violence will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect. The University recognizes the student’s right to not initiate or participate in an investigation conducted by the University.
    7. In the interpretation and application of this Policy, the University will uphold the principles of natural justice, including a fair and timely process. The principles of natural justice include the right to a fair hearing (where all parties are given the opportunity to present their case and to respond to the evidence against them) and the right to a fair process (where a decision is reached in a manner that is untainted by bias and where reasons for the decision, the evidence relied upon and the results are given in writing). The University recognizes that it is in the best interests of the University Community to investigate Complaints in a timely manner.
    8. The University recognizes the importance of confidentiality to persons involved in a matter related to Sexual Violence. The University and those acting on its behalf will keep information Reported, Complained about, or Disclosed confidential, taking reasonable steps to ensure that the information reported to the Minister pursuant to Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.19, subsection (7) does not disclose personal information within the meaning of Section 2.(1) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act., subject to the limits outlined in Sections 6.3 and 6.4.
    9. The University shall maintain and report anonymized statistics regarding Disclosures and Complaints of Sexual Violence on campus, in accordance with legislated requirements.
    10. The University will raise awareness about Sexual Violence and implement prevention strategies. In addition, University employees providing resources and support services will be trained to respond to and address Sexual Violence. The University is committed to ensuring that investigations are conducted by those trained to respond to Sexual Violence.

6. Overview of Procedures  

  1. Individuals who Disclose, make a Complaint, or Report an incident of Sexual Violence that falls within the scope of this Policy should consult the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response webpages for information about resources and supports. Students who want to Disclose, make a Complaint, or Report an incident of Sexual Violence should consult the University’s Sexual Violence Response Protocol and Procedures. Parties to a Report such as Complainants and Respondents as well as witnesses are encouraged to seek the support of the SVRCs. University Community members can receive information and support from the SVRCs without Disclosing or Reporting an incident of Sexual Violence.
  2. Any member of the University Community who receives a Disclosure or a Complaint should contact the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion to receive support and guidance in assisting the individual making the Disclosure. Any decision maker shall contact the Office of Human Rishts, Equity and Inclusion and before making any decision under this policy. Such contact will respect the Complainant’s preferences with respect to confidentiality.
  3. The University will endeavour to maintain as confidential all information received or generated in relation to the Disclosure, Complaint, or Reporting of Sexual Violence, and will limit disclosure of information about individuals to those University employees who have a need to know the information to carry out their responsibilities and to assist the University in fulfilling its legal obligations and commitments under this and other policies. Under the following circumstances however, the University may not be able to maintain complete confidentiality:
    1. where an individual is at risk of self-harm;
    2. where an individual is at risk of harming an identified individual;
    3. where members of the University Community or the broader community may be at risk of harm;
    4. where the release of confidential information is required by law, including but not limited to, an incident involving a minor, obligations related to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, human rights legislation, and where the University may be required to take steps to address actual or possible civil law, criminal law or disciplinary aspects to an incident of Sexual Violence; and/or
    5. pursuant to contractual obligations with WRPS or other local police (see Sexual Violence Response Protocol and Procedures).
  4. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Policy and in particular 6.3, when an incident of Sexual Violence has been Reported or Disclosed with sufficient identifying information, the University may initiate an investigation and take other action, if deemed necessary and reasonable by the University in order to protect the University Community. If a Complainant requests that the University not act on a Report or Complaint, the University must consider its obligation to provide equitable learning, working and living environments that are safe and free from Sexual Violence for all members of the University Community.

    The University will conduct a Sexual Violence Risk Assessment as described in the Response Protocol and Procedures.

Appendix A

Definitions

Complainant: refers to the person who is making a Complaint or Report.

Complaint: see Report.

Consent: Consent is the active, continuous, informed and voluntary agreement to engage in any sexual or physical contact.

  • Consent cannot be given when someone is unable to give Consent, such as when incapacitated due to alcohol or drug consumption, or does not understand what is being asked of them.
  • Consent cannot be implied, and can be revoked at any time without fear of repercussion.
  • Consent cannot be given when being threatened or coerced, or when induced to engage in the contact by someone in a position of power, trust or authority.
  • Consenting to one type of contact does not mean that Consent is given for every type of contact. For example, someone may Consent to a hug but not to a kiss.
  • Consent is required regardless of the relationship status or sexual history between the individuals involved.
  • Consent cannot be given by anyone other than the person participating in the sexual contact (e.g. a person’s parent, brother or sister, girlfriend or boyfriend, spouse, friend etc., cannot Consent for a person or on their behalf).

Disclose/Disclosed/Disclosing/Disclosure: means to share information pertaining to an incident of Sexual Violence for the purpose of learning about and/or receiving support and resources.

Report/Reported/Reporting: means to inform about an incident of Sexual Violence to learn about the University’s Complaint procedures and/or to seek redress using them and/or or pursue rights to criminal, civil or legal action.

Reprisal: means an action, or threat, that is intended as retaliation for making a Disclosure or enforcing a right under this policy and can be an action against a Complainant, a witness, a Respondent or any other individual involved in the process of a Complaint investigation or resolution.

Respondent: refers to the person against whom a Complaint has been filed.

Risk Assessment: means the identification of risks and the evaluation of the quantitative or qualitative nature of Risks related to a specific situation and recognized as a threat, performed by means of tools developed by the University pursuant to Policy 11, University Risk Management. Risk Assessment can be a multi-party process and includes assessing risks to health and safety. Health and safety risks may include situations where:

    1. an individual may be at risk of self-harm;
    2. an individual may be at risk of harming another person; and
    3. there is reason to believe members of the larger community may be at risk of harm.

Sexual Harassment: means (a) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against an individual because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or (b) making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the individual and/or the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome.

Sexual Violence: means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s Consent, and includes sexual assault, Sexual Harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation.

SVRC: means Sexual Violence Response Coordinator, a member of the University Community employed as a resource person whose role includes assisting with the provision of support and facilitating interim measures.

University: means the University of Waterloo.

University Community: means in aggregate all individuals employed by the University, and all students registered as such at the University.

University Property: means all real property or interests in real property owned or leased by the University and under the operational control of the University.