The University of Ottawa will adopt the 11 recommendations presented today by the Task Force on Respect and Equality, as a first step to changing attitudes, beliefs and behaviours associated with sexual violence.
The Task Force was created in March 2014 following incidents and allegations of sexual harassment involving students. Its mandate was to make recommendations on fostering a campus culture that encourages respectful behaviour, prevents sexual violence and ensures that students and employees can learn and work free of harassment and sexual violence.
Chaired by uOttawa emeritus professor Caroline Andrew, the Task Force based its findings on input from a variety of sources on and off campus, including a student survey; consultations with the faculties, services, central administration, unions and other University and community experts; input from other postsecondary institutions; and a review of best practices on the issue.
The wealth of data and intelligence we gathered from a wide variety of stakeholders provided valuable context and insight into sexual violence and its effects, the particular challenges faced by universities in general and the specific climate and circumstances at the University of Ottawa, said Andrew. We recognize that these issues are complex and demand a serious, multi-pronged and sustained approach. There is no quick fix and the road ahead will be challenging.
The findings of the Task Force are clear: we have work to do, said Allan Rock, University of Ottawa president and vice-chancellor. We are committed to taking action and will immediately begin implementing all the recommendations in the Task Force report. Our goal is to make our university a place where students, faculty and staff feel secure and where survivors of sexual violence get the support they need.
To achieve this goal, the University will:
- educate students about the nature of consent to sexual activity and the need to respect and look out for each other
- train senior managers and staff on harassment and sexualized violence
- put in place a policy and protocol that includes a clear statement of values as well as expectations of behaviour for all University members
- devise and apply a fair and transparent process when it is alleged that someone has fallen below the expected standards
The University is calling on its entire community, particularly student associations and staff and faculty unions, to work together to create an environment where people are treated with respect.
For the University of Ottawa, implementing the recommendations of the Task Force is only a first step. We don't have all the answers, but we will continue to look for ways to live up to our ideals and values, said Rock.
As recommended by the Task Force, the University will create an action team responsible for overseeing the implementation of the report recommendations. The Action Team will report to the President on the progress made within six months and annually after that.
Manager, Media Relations
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 3087