On Tuesday, March 8, the Government of Ontario passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act. As the principal of a university that takes sexual violence and sexual harassment seriously, I welcome this legislation.
The passage of this important act falls on International Women’s Day, and follows closely on the heels of the Board of Trustees' approval of Queen’s own sexual violence policy – the development of which included extensive consultation with students and other campus stakeholders. Queen’s policy outlines the options that are available to anyone who has witnessed or experienced sexual violence and the university’s responsibilities relating to awareness, education, training and reporting.
As Queen’s policy was approved before the passage of the act, and before the associated regulations have been finalized, some adjustments may be necessary. We will work to ensure that our university meets all legislative requirements.
Queen’s new policy and the passing of a new provincial law mark important milestones for our university in appropriately and respectfully responding to the issue of sexual violence and harassment on campus. However there remains work to be done.
At Queen’s, recruitment is now underway for a new position, that of a Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator, who will be the central point of contact for students, staff and faculty and will lead campus-wide education, response, support, training and advocacy activities. And, while we have many resources, services and supports already available on campus, we must continue to explore better ways of both preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors. Together, we can work to eradicate sexual violence and harassment from our campuses. I applaud the Ontario government for taking this critical step forward.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor