Message of the Vice-President Academic and Provost
"The University of Ottawa is committed to maintaining a campus that promotes respect for the dignity of every individual and a community that is free from sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. Our goal is to make our University a place where students, faculty and staff can feel safe and secure. We pledge to foster mutual respect and create a campus where any survivors of sexual violence can get the support they need.
Discrimination, harassment and violence—including sexual violence—are unfortunately a reality in our society. We take these matters very seriously and will not tolerate them at the University Ottawa.
We are committed to making the changes needed and to implement all the recommendations put forward by the Task Force on Respect and Equality in order to prevent this type of behaviour and to ensure we provide a safe learning, teaching and working environment for all.
Our University is a place for sharing knowledge and making discoveries that will create a better world. Let us work together to make our campus a better place too."
President Allan Rock
News Conference January 29, 2015
Thank you all very much for coming today.
First, I wish to thank the Task Force for doing such a thorough job on a very challenging and troubling issue.
Special thanks to the chair, Caroline Andrew, for her strong leadership.
The report being released today provides practical advice on the changes we need to make on our campus.
The University accepts and commits itself to the implementation of all of the Task Force’s recommendations.
I also want to thank everyone whose participation enriched this process:
- the students, faculty and staff who shared their views and experiences
- the experts both on and off the campus who offered advice on the way forward
- And our alumni, so many of whom sent expressions of support and made constructive suggestions about how best to respond.
Over this past 10 months, the Task Force has, in effect, led a conversation here on campus-- a conversation we needed to have as a community.
And I speak for the University in saying that we are committed to ensuring that it leads to meaningful change.
The University, of course, is not alone in confronting the societal issue of sexualized violence in all of its forms.
This past year alone, we have seen the issue arise on a number of campuses in Canada and the United States, as well as in some of our venerable national institutions.
Now despite the quality of the report we are receiving today, it is not within our power here at the University to change all of society overnight.
But by doing all we can on our own campus to make the environment safe, respectful and free of sexualized violence, we can become a beacon and create an example for others to follow.
The Task Force report that we received today provides us with a starting point in that effort.
These events raise difficult questions:
- How do we as a society view and depict women?
- Why do so many incidents of sexual violence go unreported?
- How do we change attitudes that condone or downplay the impact of sexual violence?
- How do we influence behaviours and attitudes?
- How best to bring about the change we need and want?
I asked the Task Force to help us find some of the answers.
Its members took stock of what we are doing and examined what more we can do to
- encourage respect in all our dealings with others,
- denounce misogynist behavior and
- strengthen the protective and preventive policies and practices we already have in place.
Its findings are clear: we have work to do.
We are committed to doing that work and we will immediately begin implementing all the recommendations in the Task Force report.
Our goal is to make our university a place where we treat each other with respect, where students, faculty and staff feel safe and where survivors of sexual violence--- should it occur-- get the support they need.
As the report indicates, the administration cannot tackle these issues by itself.
As urged by the Task Force, we must seek the assistance of our community to successfully implement the recommendations.
Implementing these recommendations will mean changes to collective agreements that cannot be made without the agreement of our unions.
We will also need the support of our student associations in changing the way things are done on campus.
We look forward to working together to achieve the goals we share.
The University also plans to collaborate with groups in the broader community that have the expertise we need to succeed.
This University exists in order to teach, so that others may learn. It exists too in order to discover, so that we can make the world a better place.
So I say to my colleagues on campus, to our faculty, to our students and to our staff: let’s do what we do best.
Let’s learn from what has happened, and from the report we have received today.
And together, by acting on its recommendations, let’s make ours a better place.
Task Force Chair Caroline Andrew
I am very pleased and honoured to be here this morning on behalf of the Task Force to present our report titled Ending Sexual Violence at the University of Ottawa (PDF) to President Allan Rock, and to members of both our University community and our broader community.
Le Groupe de travail sur le respect et l'égalité a été créé en mars 2014. Sur une période de 9 mois, il a examiné différentes sources de recherches et entrepris de vastes consultations auprès de divers intervenants de la communauté universitaire. Nous avons bénéficié de l'engagement actif des membres de notre communauté qui ont partagé avec nous les problèmes perçus et les solutions possibles.
This broad and active engagement included dialogue with campus groups, written and verbal input from other universities, a campus climate survey on student attitudes and behaviours in which 1000 students participated, and consultation with community experts.
The resulting data and intelligence provided valuable context and insight into sexual violence and its effects, the particular challenges faced by universities and the specific climate and circumstances at the University of Ottawa. The process defined our action plan.
Sexual violence is an extremely complex issue and one for which there is no quick fix. For this reason we have recommended several strategies that require a sustained and multi-pronged approach to fostering a campus culture that encourages respectful behaviour and prevents sexual violence.
Nous avons basés nos recommandations sur une approche à plusieurs volets. Celle-ci va de la formation et l'adoption d'un énoncé explicite de valeurs, à une variété de services pratiques.
Notre toute première recommandation est la création d'une équipe d'intervention. Cette équipe assurera la mise en œuvre des recommandations du rapport et sera chargée de publier annuellement un rapport des activités, des progrès réalisés et des défis rencontrés. Le premier compte-rendu devra être déposé d'ici les six prochains mois.
Les importants travaux de l'équipe d'intervention serviront de catalyseur de changement et permettront aux acteurs clés de la communauté de travailler en étroite collaboration en vue de changer les attitudes et comportements et de créer un climat qui encourage les comportements respectueux sur le campus.
Before concluding I would like to extend my personal thanks to the members of the Task Force. Over the course of the past nine months, we worked diligently towards producing a thorough analysis of our campus environment and to developing recommendations that would be both actionable and beneficial to our community. It was an immense pleasure to work with such a dedicated group of individuals.
I also want to recognize and thank our community partners, campus partners and friends for their collaboration and contributions to our work.
Thank you, merci.