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Statement regarding Toronto Star story on sexual assault

The following is a statement from Principal Woolf about a Toronto Star story on sexual assault on Canadian post-secondary campuses:

Like many of you, I was deeply disturbed by today’s Toronto Star story on sexual assault on Canadian post-secondary campuses. I am profoundly sorry that these women went through these ordeals, some of them during their time at Queen’s, and appreciate their bravery in speaking publicly about these events.

While I could not and cannot comment on specific cases involving current or former Queen’s students without their consent because of their right to privacy, I want to make it clear that there is no tolerance for sexual assault in our community, and when it does occur we take it seriously. As principal it is my duty and determination to lead and participate in discussing this issue openly.

Like most universities, we have much work to do in this regard, but we have also made some significant strides. In the last five years Queen’s has enhanced campus resources related to sexual assault in many ways, including increasing our counselling capacity and developing specific training programs for residence dons, orientation leaders, and other student leaders. Almost two years ago we created a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group, comprised of students, staff and faculty members who are tasked with developing recommendations to enhance programs and initiatives related to sexual assault.

I, and my colleagues at Queen’s, recognize that sexual assault is of serious concern. With that in mind, there are many people on our campus, including a dedicated sexual assault outreach counsellor, who work tirelessly to support survivors and provide education and training related to sexual assault.

That is why I have directed the Working Group to expedite its specific recommendations for the university on enhancing and creating programs and initiatives that address sexual assault. I plan to meet with group members in the next two weeks and will call upon them to make their findings public and available to the Queen’s community by the end of the school year. I will provide updates to the community as we progress.