Review of the Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen's University Students


September 2022

Sexual violence is a reality on university campuses and many students will experience or know someone who has experienced sexual violence during their time at post-secondary.

Queen’s is strongly committed to promoting a positive learning, living and working environment in which sexual violence is not tolerated. We work in partnership with students and community organizations to help prevent sexual violence through education, awareness, policy, fostering a culture of consent, community building, and safety programs. We also provide comprehensive and coordinated supports to students impacted by sexual violence.

This year, the university is reviewing its Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students to ensure we continue to have effective and trauma-informed responses and processes to address sexualized violence.

The policy is scheduled for regular review in 2023, and this review process is expected to be completed before the start of the 2023-24 year.

The review will focus on the effectiveness of the policy, along with other university policies and procedures with which it intersects. The primary emphasis will be on our formal reporting processes and procedures.

Review Structure and Process

Stephanie Simpson, AVP (Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion) and Ann Tierney, VP and Dean of Student Affairs, co-chairs of the university’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force (SVPRTF), are co-leading the review.

The task force, comprising students, staff, faculty, and community, will play an important role in the review, as it has historically been involved in providing input and insight in policy development and supports to students, as well as training programs, awareness and education resources related to sexual violence prevention and response.

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, has been engaged by the co-leads to conduct the review. CCLISAR has worked with several Canadian universities on their policies, and will help ensure Queen’s policy and related procedures align with evolving best practices.

Consultations will take place this fall, and it is expected the university will receive a report in February that will include any recommended revisions and updates to the policy. The task force will then help determine the revisions or updates to the policy that will go through the university’s policy review process in the winter term. This process also includes a campus consultation.

Invitation for comment

As part of the review process this fall, students, staff, faculty, and broader community members are invited to provide written input and comment on the policy and its procedures. Emails can be sent to irp@cclisar.ca.

All submissions go directly to CCLISAR. Comments will be confidential and if referenced in the report, they will be anonymized.

Questions about the review can be emailed to studentaffairs@queensu.ca.

Policy Documents

Policy on Sexual Violence Involving Queen’s University Students

Policy Reviewers

Joanna Birenbaum

Joanna Birenbaum is a litigator in Toronto with over two decades of expertise in gender equality and sexual violence. Her diverse practice in these areas includes constitutional litigation, civil sexual assault claims, employment law, human rights and workplace investigations, representing complainants in sexual history and records applications in criminal sex assault proceedings, defending malicious prosecution and defamation claims targeting women who have reported sexual violence, and Supreme Court of Canada appellate advocacy. Joanna also prosecutes for a regulated health college in Ontario and advises institutions and employers on sexual violence policies and procedures. Joanna was a 2014-2015 McMurtry Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School and adjunct faculty at Osgoode (2014-2017). In addition to her private practice, Joanna is the Director of Capacity Building for CCLISAR (Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Law Response). Joanna has published in the area of sexual violence including her most recent book, co-authored with Professor Karen Busby, “Achieving Fairness: A Guide to Campus Sexual Violence Complaints” published by Thomson Reuters (March 2020).

Elaine Craig

Elaine Craig is a Professor of Law at Dalhousie University. She has researched and published extensively on sexual assault law in Canada. Dr. Craig is the author of Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession (2018 McGill-Queens) and Troubling Sex: Towards a Legal Theory of Sexual Integrity (2012, UBC Press). Dr. Craig teaches sexual assault law, gender, sexuality and law, and constitutional law. She has testified before Senate and House of Commons Standing Committees on proposed law reforms to the criminal law of sexual offences and is a regular public commentator on legal responses to sexualized violence. Dr. Craig is the Director of Research for CCLISAR (Canadian Centre for Legal Innovation in Sexual Assault Law Response). In June 2022, Professor Craig was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the Law Society of Ontario.

Sonia Lawrence

Sonia Lawrence is a Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Her work centres on the critical analysis of the legal conception of equality. Her research interests include gender, race, critical race feminism, feminism, equality law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Professor Lawrence has served as the Director of Osgoode’s Institute for Feminist Legal Studies for over a decade and has also served as the Director of Osgoode’s Graduate Program. Professor Lawrence clerked for Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada and pursued graduate work at Yale Law School.