Enhanced sexual assault policy already in the works at UWindsor
An enhanced sexual assault policy at all post-secondary schools in Ontario is already in the works at the University of Windsor.
On Thursday, the provincial government announced all colleges and universities had until the end of March 2022 to update sexual violence and harassment policies in order to shield students from irrelevant questions during related investigations at institutions.
The provisions also to also ensure that students can bring forward complaints without fear of disciplinary action.
“I’ve definitely heard a lot of survivors express concerns about how the complex situations that they’ve been in will be viewed by an investigator,” says Anne Rudzinski, Sexual Violence Education Specialist at the University of Windsor.
“I hear all kinds of things like, ‘well we were flirting’ or ‘I did this activity with somebody else’ or ‘I was really drunk when it happened.’ So, I think having these things in our policy adds another layer of confidence for them, that if they reach out to our office and they do choose to file a complaint, that those protections will be in place.”
Rudzinski says their office recently launched a new campaign: Prevent. Resist. Support.
“Prevent is the lens of preventing sexual violence before it happens,” explains Rudzinski. “Resist is all about giving folks the tools to leave a situation or get themselves out of a situation when they need to and then support is all about the things we can do for folks after they have an experience.”
Rudzinski tells CTV News UWindsor also partnered with REES (Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors), a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week centralized online reporting and information platform that provides increased options for students, staff, and faculty to report sexual violence.
“We can’t fix the things that happen and we certainly hope that none of our students will need to use our resources, but our approach is to try and be professional problem solvers.” Rudzinski says, “We try to figure out if there’s anything we can do to make things a little easier for folks.”
According to a 2019 Stats Canada Survey on individual safety in the post-secondary student population, 71 per cent of post-secondary students experienced or witnessed unwanted sexualized behaviours over the past year. The survey also revealed that 10 per cent of female students had experienced a sexual assault in a post-secondary setting over the previous year.
Rudzinski explains there is no pressure when reaching out. “There are no obligations. We’re not expecting that you file a complaint. We can talk through your options if you’d like to, but the choice is yours for what you would like to happen next.”