Ryerson University to review sexual assault policies

Ryerson University campus. (Courtesy Amir Seyd)

Ryerson University campus. (Courtesy Amir Seyd)

Ryerson University will review its existing sexual assault policy in the wake of a Toronto Star probe that found most Canadian universities and colleges don’t have one single policy to deal with sexual assault.

Ryerson, along with 44 other Ontario universities and colleges, announced Nov. 26 it will launch the review to determine if the  schools can adequately deal with sexual assault on campus.

The Star’s investigation found nine out of 78 universities in Canada had a specific policy to deal with sexual assault and none of the 24 Ontario colleges surveyed had a policy.

Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson, told The Ryersonian the university will participate in the review and that he fully supports the launch.

Michael Forbes, spokesperson for Ryerson, met with campus media on Wednesday to address the review.

He says that while Ryerson does not have one single policy, the university has four or five policies that all support sexual assault victims.

He says a victim could go to security, equity diversity and inclusion, discrimination and harassment prevention services, or human resources for support in the case of an assault.

“There are a dozen spots where a victim can report an assault,” Forbes said.

Forbes says Ryerson supports the victim and helps them decide what avenue they would like to take in how they will report the assault.

“If they want to talk to the Toronto Police services, security will coordinate that and support them through that,” he said. “Then if they don’t, that’s fine. We support that and we can take them through another course.”

According to Forbes, the review will be a lengthy process because the universities will evaluate different institutions and policies and see what schools have the most positive results.

The four universities that have created a special policy to deal with sexual violence are Brock University, The University of Guelph, Lakehead University, and Western University, the Star found.

A press release from Ryerson on Nov. 26 says the university has a management team in place that can develop a coordinated response and build “a web of support for the survivor.”

The university can also assist the victim by addressing any academic, financial, and/or registration issues in a way that “protects the survivor from having to tell their story to multiple people on campus multiple times.”

Forbes says Ryerson actively works to prevent assault and faculty, staff, and students must participate in educational courses on consent and assault. All students living in residence must take a course on consent, instructors take a course on assault, and security goes through once a year training on these issues.

“Anything that makes people aware and feel supported will be effective,” Forbes says of the review. “I would hope that people know that Ryerson supports them and there is support and avenues they can take.”

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