The University of Ottawa strongly condemns a recent event at which some students were encouraged to behave disgracefully, and denounces any behaviour that runs counter to the values and policies the University has implemented to prevent sexual violence on campus.
The University reiterates its zero tolerance approach to sexual violence. It adopted a policy on the prevention of sexual violence even before the Ontario government passed the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment), 2016. The University’s policy includes a formal and confidential complaint mechanism. Any person who experiences or witnesses sexual violence is encouraged to contact, in complete confidence, the appropriate services on campus.
The policy also includes a committee on the prevention of sexual violence, which aims to ensure that the policy is implemented effectively and to support efforts to raise awareness of these issues on campus. This committee reports to the President every year, and will be mandated to look into such student activities in light of the policy on the prevention of sexual violence.
The new policy is a significant milestone in uOttawa’s efforts to improve its services and foster a campus culture that promotes respectful behaviour, prevents sexual violence, and maintains a safe environment where students, faculty and staff can learn and work.
The University of Ottawa is committed to creating a campus where the dignity of every individual is preserved and where all University community members can enjoy an environment that is free of harassment, discrimination and sexual violence. We strive to create a university where all students, faculty and staff feel safe and secure.
The University reminds members of the University community that several resources are available for victims of sexual violence, and that every member is called upon to help create a safe and respectful environment.
Several other measures have also been implemented since the Task Force on Respect and Equality issued its recommendations, including efforts to raise awareness on campus and information briefings for students. In addition, the University encourages professors to include a statement against sexual violence in their syllabuses.
This incident reminds us that sexual violence is a societal problem, and that even though University administrators are determined to respond as required, they cannot solve this problem on their own. Therefore, they call upon the entire University community to help change such disgraceful behaviour and improve the culture of our campus.