This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.
Approving Authority: Board of Governors
Original Approval Date: November 24, 2016
Date of Most Recent Review/Revision: June 1, 2023
Office of Accountability: President and Vice Chancellor
Administrative Responsibility: Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management
1.01 Wilfrid Laurier University (“Laurier” or “the University”) recognizes an individual’s right to work, study and live in an environment of mutual respect and understanding that is free from Gendered and Sexual Violence. As such, Laurier is committed to addressing Gendered and Sexual Violence within the University community through education, awareness, prevention, support and accountability.
2.01 The purpose of this policy is to set out how Laurier will respond to and address Gendered and Sexual Violence involving Students at Laurier.
2.02 When an act of Gendered and Gendered and Sexual Violence involving a Laurier Student becomes known to the University in accordance with this policy and its associated procedures, Laurier will respond with the aim of providing appropriate supports and accommodations to all affected individuals.
3.01 Adaptable Resolution: A process that may be requested by the Complainant, alongside or after the submission of a Formal Complaint. Adaptable Resolution is a voluntary, resolution-based, structured process between or among affected parties that balances safety, support and, if appropriate, accountability without the imposition of formal disciplinary action against a Respondent.
3.02 Bystander: a bystander is anyone who is in a position to intervene before, during or after the action(s) of Gendered and Sexual Violence and includes those who receive a Disclosure of Gendered and Sexual Violence. A bystander is neither a person who is the subject of Gendered and Sexual Violence nor a person accused of engaging in the Gendered and Sexual Violence.
3.03 Complaint: a Complaint initiates a formal process under this Policy. A Complaint may prompt an internal or external investigation and may result in a range of possible accountability measures and sanctions. Such action will require a declaration of the particulars of the allegations to the University (e.g., names, date, details of the incident) for the purpose of due process and procedural fairness.
3.04 Complainant: a Student Member of the University Community who has brought forward a Complaint.
3.05 Consent: Consent is an active, direct, voluntary, and conscious choice and agreement to engage in any sexual activity by a person capable of consenting. Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, or who is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise lacks the capacity to give consent. Consent can be revoked at any time and cannot be assumed nor implied. These elements of consent must be explicit. It is not acceptable for a person who is said to have engaged in Gendered and Sexual Violence to use their own consumption of alcohol or drugs as an excuse for their mistaken belief that there was consent.
For further clarity, consent:
a. Consent is active: the absence of “no” is not consent;
b. Consent can be withdrawn at any time through words or behaviour;
c. When engaging in physical contact or sexual activity it is the responsibility of all person(s) to attain consent;
d. Consent to one sexual act does not constitute or imply consent to a different sexual act;
e. Consent given at one time does not indicate or suggest that consent has been given at other times or will be given at a future time;
f. Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship status or sexual history together;
g. Consent can never be obtained through threats, trickery, coercion, pressure or other forms of control or intimidation; and,
h. Consent may be compromised where individuals are in a position of power and/or authority.
3.06 Disclosure: when a Student who has experienced Gendered and Sexual Violence tells someone about their experience. The Student who discloses can receive support without making a Complaint. Any Member of the University Community can receive disclosures and there is no mandatory reporting requirement when a Member of the University Community receives a Disclosure except in the instances described in the Limits to Confidentiality section (e.g. mandatory reporting to a municipal or provincial police service).
3.07 Employee: A person who performs work for wages in any capacity for the University.
3.08 Gendered Violence: any violence, physical or psychological, that is committed, threatened or attempted against an individual without the individual’s consent by targeting a marginalized gender, gender identity, or gender expression.
3.09 Informal Intervention Process: A process that may be requested by the complainant, prior to filing a Formal Complaint, that may result in a range of possible accommodations or agreements involving the Complainant and Respondent. The appropriateness of initiating this process is decided upon by the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management.
3.10 Member(s) of the University Community: persons who currently live, work, or study on any Laurier campus. Members include Students (including student groups), Employees, adjunct and visiting faculty, and volunteers at Laurier.
3.11 Respondent(s): a Member or Members of the University Community against whom allegations of Gendered and Sexual Violence have been made. Use of this term does not imply pre-determination that the Respondent is culpable of misconduct.
3.12 Sexual Violence: means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation.
3.13 Student: An individual registered in a course of study as a student at the University, either full-time or part-time, pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or non-degree certificate programs.
3.14 Sexual misconduct: means, in relation to a Student of the University
a. physical sexual relations with the student, touching of a sexual nature of the student or behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature toward a student by an employee of the University where,
(i) the act constitutes an offence under the Criminal Code (Canada),
(ii) the act infringes the right of the student under clause 7 (3) (a) of the Human Rights Code to be free from a sexual solicitation or advance, or
(iii) contravenes this policy or any other policy, rule or other requirement of the University respecting sexual relations between employees and students, or
b. any conduct by an employee of the University that infringes the right of the student under clause 7 (3) (b) of the Human Rights Code to be free from a reprisal or threat of reprisal for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance.
3.15 Survivor: for the purpose of this Policy means an individual who identifies their experience as Gendered and Sexual Violence. A Survivor may also be referred to by other terms such as “Complainant”.
3.16 Staff: Employees of the University and any federated or affiliated college, but does not include persons who are members of faculty or persons who are academic librarians.
3.17 Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): occurs between two people involved in an intimate relationship. It is a non-gendered reference, acknowledging the interchangeable roles of aggressor and victim. IPV is inclusive of all forms of relationships, e.g. hetero/same sex, married/common law/dating.
4.01 This policy and the accompanying procedures apply to all Students—regardless of their position or role or time of incident (e.g., evenings, weekends and holidays)—when on University property or when off-campus.
4.02 Other University policies and procedures apply to complaints involving University employees.
4.03 While the University is committed to providing supports and resources, there may be geographical limitations that affect the University’s ability to investigate for the purposes of a Complaint, such as if the experience occurred during an international student experience.
4.04 The University will work with other institutions where Students are cross-registered to facilitate the application of this policy and procedures.
4.05 This Policy does not prevent Survivors from seeking alternative or additional recourse through criminal or civil proceedings. Procedures set out under this policy may be suspended when there are criminal or civil proceedings; however, the University may continue to provide accommodations and support to those affected by Gendered and Sexual Violence. The office may also make recommendations for interim measures until internal procedures resume when appropriate.
4.06 University policy 6.1, Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and its procedures addresses discrimination and harassment based on the prohibited grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, which are outside the scope of this policy.
4.07 Intimate partner violence involving Students is addressed through this policy whether or not Gendered and Sexual Violence has occurred.
4.08 Disclosures of Gendered and Sexual Violence that are made to the Special Constable Services (SCS) will be reported to the municipal or provincial police service holding jurisdiction over the matter. SCS will provide information to all parties about the services that are available through the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management (OHRCM).
4.09 Sexual Misconduct Complaints Against Employee
4.09.01 In cases where the respondent is a Laurier faculty or staff member, supports and services are available to students through this Policy. Complaint processes may be initiated through the Office of Human Rights and Conflict Management under Procedures Relating to the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination Policy 6.1.
5.01 Laurier condemns Gendered and Sexual Violence of any kind. Laurier recognizes that Gendered and Sexual Violence impacts people of all genders but it does not impact everyone equally; therefore, responses, prevention efforts, and supports will take into consideration the complexities of violence as experienced by people with intersecting identities.
5.02 Laurier is committed to fostering a University culture where:
a. Gendered and Sexual Violence is unacceptable and not tolerated;
b. All students will be treated with compassion, dignity and respect;
c. There are a range of supports available to Survivors that are responsive to their intersecting identities, lived experiences, and healing needs;
d. All members of the University community have access to education about Gendered and Sexual Violence;
e. Individuals and groups who commit acts of Gendered and Sexual Violence are held accountable through University procedures that follow principles of fairness;
f. Survivors will not be blamed for having experienced Gendered and Sexual Violence.
5.03 All Students impacted by Gendered and Sexual Violence at Laurier have the right to:
a. Be provided with non-judgmental and compassionate support;
b. Be treated with dignity and respect;
c. Not be subject to discipline or sanctions for violations of the university’s policies relating to drug or alcohol use at the time that the Gendered and Sexual Violence occurred;
d. Be informed about on- and off-campus services, resources, and Complaint options;
e. Choose whether or not to access support services and decide which services they feel would be most beneficial;
f. Include a support person of their choice in meetings related to their case;
g. Have reasonable actions taken to provide a safe and supportive working, learning and living environment including accommodations related to academics, work, campus life, recreation, and residence;
h. Assistance in the creation of a personal safety plan; and,
i. Be kept informed, in a timely manner, about University processes that are undertaken as a result of information they have provided in a Disclosure or following the filing of a Complaint, including who is informed about a case, the status and outcome of an investigation, and whether early resolution or interim measures have been taken.
j. Act as integral decision-maker in situations pertaining to themselves. Please consult Appendix A: Limits to Confidentiality for further information.
5.04 A Student affected by Gendered and Sexual Violence may choose to:
a. Make a Disclosure in order to access ongoing support, accommodations and resources related to Gendered and Sexual Violence experienced prior to or during their time at Laurier (see Procedure 2.0);
b. File a Complaint to engage the Complaint procedures and possible accommodations, actions or sanctions as noted in the Procedures (see Procedure 3.0-8.6)
c. These options are not mutually exclusive; a Survivor may pursue any, all, or none of them.
5.05 The University is committed to responding to Complaints of Gendered and Sexual Violence fairly and expeditiously and recognizes the difficulty of being involved in a Complaint process. Responses are guided by a commitment to the respectful treatment of all individuals involved and to procedural fairness.
5.06 Students who make a Disclosure or Complaint, or seek to access supports and services for Gendered and Sexual Violence, will not be asked irrelevant questions during the investigation process by university staff or internal or external investigators, including irrelevant questions relating to the student’s sexual expression or past sexual history.
5.07 Laurier will offer on-campus supports and welcomes Survivors to choose to seek a number of different off-campus supports based on their unique needs. Examples of on- and off-campus resources that serve diverse populations could include 2SLGBTQIA supports, elders, faith or culturally based counselling, etc. Laurier is committed to collaborating with community agencies to fulfill the education and support commitments outlined in this policy.
5.08 In collaboration with Members of the University Community and community partners, Laurier will continue to monitor best practices and existing research within and beyond the institution, and review and update this policy at least every three years or as may be required.
5.09 Education is an essential component of prevention efforts, which strengthens personal and institutional accountability; therefore, Laurier is committed to providing ongoing education about Gendered and Sexual Violence to all Members of the University Community. The University will provide those who will be enacting this policy and staff members who are the most likely to receive Disclosures with training on this policy, Gendered and Sexual Violence, and how to respond in a trauma-informed way to Disclosures (please see Appendix: Education & Awareness).
5.10 Accompanying procedures outline how the University responds to incidents of Gendered and Sexual Violence involving Laurier Students. These procedures aim to be responsive to the complexities of Gendered and Sexual Violence. All Laurier Students found responsible for committing acts of Gendered and Sexual Violence will be held accountable and may be subject to sanctions and discipline under this policy and procedures.
6.01 The University will not tolerate any retaliation or reprisal, through any means including through social or other electronic media, against anyone who discloses or reports an incident of Gendered and Sexual Violence, or who participates in a University process that is addressing allegations of Gendered and Sexual Violence. Retaliation or threat of retaliation or reprisal may result in further disciplinary action under this or other University policies.
7.01 If anyone is in breach of the Gendered and Sexual Violence policy herein, the University may in its discretion impose the any of the following sanctions which may include but are not limited to:
a. Termination of employment or discipline
b. Expel the student from the University;
c. Suspend the student from the University;
d. Deny the offending party access to the University’s premises;
Laurier recognizes the importance of education and awareness for Members of the University Community to help them address the prevalence of Gendered and Sexual Violence and appropriately respond to Disclosures. The University is committed to working with its community and University partners in the development and delivery of excellent and timely education programs.
Education & Awareness at Laurier will:
a. Empower the University Community to be proactive bystanders.
b. Be rooted in the knowledge that Gendered and Sexual Violence impacts everyone but does not impact everyone equally. Women, in particular Indigenous, Black, and racialized women and women with disabilities, children, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community experience Gendered and Sexual Violence more frequently.
c. Address prevalent myths about Gendered and Sexual Violence that function to blame and stigmatize Survivors, and perpetuate a culture in which this violence is normalized.
d. Encourage compassionate responses guided by trauma-informed principles that prioritize safety, trust, choice, collaboration and empowerment.
This policy was initiated in collaboration with the Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent and Laurier’s Gendered Violence Task Force. Thanks also to the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region, the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant, the Collective for Feminist Action and Research and the Students of the Centre for Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for their review and analysis. The contributions of the Ontario Women’s Directorate to this policy are also acknowledged as this document was made in close consultation with their resource guide (Developing a Response to Gendered and Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide for Ontario’s Colleges and Universities).