University receives sexual violence policy report

University receives sexual violence policy report

March 7, 2023


Queen's University has received a report from expert external consultants that will guide updates to the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen's University Students, as well as additional changes to processes and supports to students involved in formal complaint processes.  

The report is part of a regular, scheduled policy review that began last fall, reflecting Queen’s ongoing commitment to addressing sexualized violence. The university initiated the review by engaging the Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Response (CCLISAR), a charitable, non-partisan group with academic and professional expertise in legal responses to sexualized violence. CCLISAR has worked with several Canadian universities to review and recommend enhancements to their sexual violence policies.

Recommendations from the report will be implemented to help ensure the university is providing the most effective and trauma-informed response to formal complaints, in alignment with evolving best practices for addressing sexual violence complaints within the post-secondary sector. 

“We welcome this report, and its 21 recommendations, and we are grateful to everyone who has participated in the review to date, including students who have been involved in our formal reporting processes,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion) and co-chair of the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force (SVPRTF), with Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs.  

Several recommendations can be implemented immediately, including: 

  • Reviewing, simplifying and adjusting language, as recommended, in formal complaints forms and documentation  
  • Revising the detail required in initial written complaints 
  • Ensuring we are regularly communicating with students about the status of their case 
  • Reviewing how Queen’s collects and publishes information about disclosures and complaints  
  • Integrating Indigenous restorative practices into the process, as applicable
  • Consulting with centres serving QTBIPOC and international students on their role relating to responding to disclosures, facilitating immediate measures, and implementing sanctions 

“We sincerely appreciate CCLISAR’s expertise, professionalism, and collaborative approach in supporting the university’s efforts to regularly review and enhance processes for responding to sexual violence,” says Vice-Provost and Dean Tierney. “As we implement these recommendations, we will continue to be guided by student experiences and perspectives, as well as the valuable input of the faculty, staff and student members of our Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force.” 

Kerry Roe is the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Student Coordinator, and task force member, who was actively involved throughout the review process.  

“Students want increased transparency and improved accessibility for formal complaints processes, and the implementation of these recommendations is a large step in the right direction. As a student, it was very assuring to see such a thorough and thoughtful review process, and to see the dedication to making the entire process as trauma-informed and Survivor-centric as possible,” she says. “It is important to remember no process will ever be easy or trauma-free for a Survivor of sexual violence, and that prevention, changing minds, attitudes, and narratives, is the most critical aspect of ending sexual violence and supporting Survivors in the Queen's community.” 

The process for developing updates to the policy, which will include campus consultation, will also begin immediately through the appropriate governance pathways. The revised policy will be brought to the Board of Trustees for approval. 

Recommendations that involve policy changes include:

  • Moving to less formalized processes for complaints (using an investigation model instead of an adjudication model) 
  • Establishing a right of appeal by a complainant 
  • Introducing more supports for respondents  
  • Introducing the opportunity to use immediate measures following a disclosure 
  • Responding to provincial legislative requirements related to employee sexual misconduct (Bill 26), and relationships involving faculty/staff and students  
  • Updating definitions and language  

Learn more about the review and read the report. 

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