Task Force on Respect and Equality
On March 6, 2014, following troubling incidents involving our students, Allan Rock, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Ottawa, announced the creation of the Task Force on Respect and Equality.
The Task Force's mandate was to make recommendations on how to foster a campus culture that encourages respectful behaviour, prevents sexual violence and ensures that members of the community, and women in particular, can learn and work free of harassment and sexual violence.
On January 29, the Task Force, made up of students, faculty, support staff and community members, submitted its final report (PDF). The University has accepted and will implement all the recommendations.
This past year alone, there have been many issues of sexual violence on a number of campuses in Canada and the United States. The University of Ottawa is committed to make the environment safe, respectful and free of sexualized violence.
Post-secondary institutions are meant to be safe spaces for students. With a mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, research and community engagement, Canadian universities and colleges have the responsibility of protecting students from discrimination and fostering a community where students can develop critical thought and engagement.
Despite this mission, unfortunately, university and college campuses across Canada are not safe for all students. The frequency of sexualized violence on campuses interferes with the ability of many students to fully take part in university life. Sexualized violence comes in many forms—threats, unwanted sexual comments or advances, sexual coercion, cyber-harassment, alcohol or drug-facilitated sexual violence and sexual assault. Many survivors are left feeling isolated, alone and blamed. And, although sexualized violence disproportionately affects women, men can also be victims of these crimes.
In recent years, several Canadian universities have faced media attention and public scrutiny because of incidents on campus such as "rape chants,", racist speech and sexual assault. Many students, organizations and faculty have used the term "rape culture" to encompass these attitudes, stereotypes, policies and practices that minimize or excuse rape or that silence or place unfair burdens on women who have been raped. York University, UBC and St Mary's, among other institutions of higher learning, have responded with media releases, safety audits, task force reports and policy changes. At the same time, legal, political and reputational crises have beset U.S. universities and colleges that have failed to respond appropriately to sexual assault committed by and against their students. These crises have culminated in a mass movement in the U.S. led by students that has succeeded in prompting federal intervention in the form of policy guidelines, legislation and the prospect of loss of funding for non-compliant institutions.
Earlier this year, the University of Ottawa made national headlines following two events that highlighted the challenges facing Canadian universities. First, in March 2014, a Facebook conversation between five male students (four of whom were elected student representatives) about Student Federation President Anne-Marie Roy was made public, a conversation that included sexually derogatory and unacceptable comments about Roy. Just a day after that conversation was made public, the University of Ottawa announced the suspension of the men's hockey team pending an investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving members of the hockey team that took place in Thunder Bay in early February. After an internal investigation, the University of Ottawa relieved the head coach of the men's varsity hockey team and suspended the men's hockey program for the 2014-15 season.
These events have raised serious concerns about the safety of female members of our campus community. Following these deeply troubling incidents, University of Ottawa president, Allan Rock, struck the Task Force on Respect and Equality, whose mandate is to provide recommendations about how to foster a culture on campus that encourages respectful behaviour, prevents sexualized violence and ensures members of the community—women in particular—can learn and work free of harassment and sexualized violence. Building on the work already being done at the University of Ottawa, this task force aims to not only contribute to the ongoing conversation about "rape culture" on North American campuses but also guide the University of Ottawa in living up to its obligation to protect members of the campus community from sexualized violence.
The University of Ottawa Task Force on Respect and Equality (“Task Force”) will provide recommendations to the President about how to foster a culture on campus that encourages respectful behaviour, prevents sexualized violence and ensures that members of the community, women in particular, can learn and work free of harassment and sexualized violence.
Areas of Inquiry
In addition to other areas of inquiry that the Task Force may choose to pursue, the Task Force will:
- set the stage for its work by exploring attitudes and behaviour on campus in relation to violence by men against women;
- assess the University community’s policies and practices, including training and sensitization, that aim to prevent or respond to threats or acts of sexualized violence, and explore ways to broaden and strengthen them;
- articulate the values relating to respect and equality that we, as a University community, share and promote;
- consider whether, and by what means, sanctions should be imposed when a member of the University community is found to have behaved in a way inconsistent with those values; and
- examine best practices at universities in Canada and beyond in relation to the matters within the Task Force’s mandate.
In carrying out its mandate, the Task Force shall:
- liaise with the student associations and unions on campus and whatever work they may undertake on subjects related to the Task Force’s mandate;
- look for opportunities to engage with other Canadian universities in relation to subjects within its mandate, encouraging a broader discussion of these issues; and
- link with women’s groups outside the university and especially those knowledgeable about sexual assault and its consequences, in order to determine whether they have advice on matters within the Task Force mandate.
Questions to guide public consultation
- What do you believe is currently working well regarding University of Ottawa procedures, processes, and services available to people who have experienced harassment or sexualized violence? What is not working well and how can that be improved?
- In your view, what procedures, services, or resources are needed to reduce sexualized violence on the University of Ottawa campus?
- What are the challenges and potential benefits associated with implementing a code of conduct at the University of Ottawa?
- What is your experience with on-campus training or orientation programs?
- Has your group/organization ever collaborated with groups/organizations off-campus on issues of harassment and/or sexualized violence? In your view, what are the barriers or potential benefits of community-university alliances?
- What are the major barriers to making the University of Ottawa safer for students, staff, and faculty?
- What values related to respect and equality should guide our university community?
Caroline Andrew, Distinguished University Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences
Caroline Andrew is a lifelong advocate for equality for women. She was dean of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Social Sciences from 1997 to 2005, and is currently an emeritus professor at the School of Political Studies, as well as director of the Centre on Governance and co-chair of the Women and Leadership Series.
Véronika Bernard, BA, student experience supervisor
Véronika Bernard’s extensive professional career is in the field of post-secondary education. In her current position, she assesses and improves the student experience for those enrolled in the Faculty of Arts. She is responsible for managing academic success services and initiatives that aim to improve student retention and success.
Dillon Black, student, Carleton University
Dillon Black is currently studying social work at Carleton University. Dillon’s work covers a range of social justice issues, including gender, sexuality, anti-violence and mental health. They are involved in a number of community-based initiatives, and currently works with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women as coordinator of the Preventing Violence Against Women on Campuses and the Cyber, Sexual Violence and Youth projects, as well as leading the development of the RISE sexual violence prevention app.
Lacy Caron, undergraduate student
Lacy Caron is a fourth-year student pursuing a BASc in mechanical engineering and computing technology. She has worked as a coordinator for Dr. Catherine Mavriplis, the NSERC/Pratt & Whitney Chair for Women in Science and Engineering.
Eugene Celac, undergraduate student
Eugene Celac is a fourth-year student who is pursuing a BASc in mechanical engineering.
Kelly Gordon, graduate student
Kelly Gordon is a third-year student pursuing a PhD in Political Science.
Shari Graydon, catalyst, Informed Opinions
Shari Graydon is an award-winning author and advocate. She founded and currently leads Informed Opinions, a social enterprise that partners with organizations across Canada to amplify women’s voices and support their increased participation in the public discourse.
Karen Green, Senior Advisor Aboriginal Initiatives
Karen Green is a lawyer with extensive volunteer and professional experience in dealing with issues regarding violence against women; in particular, violence against indigenous women and murdered and missing indigenous women. In addition, Karen has considerable background in human rights, discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Karin Hinzer, associate professor at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Karin Hinzer holds the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Photonic Nanostructures and Integrated Devices and is a founder of SUNLAB, a research laboratory that uses nanotechnology to create high-efficiency solar cells. Her work in the field of green optoelectronics aims to develop broad-spectrum, higher efficiency solar power systems.
Pam Hrick, BSocSci (uOttawa), JD (Queen's)
Pam Hrick was president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa in 2007-2008. Her academic and professional interests are in the field of equality rights, with a specific focus on violence against women. She recently served as vice-chair on the Board of Directors of Sexual Assault Centre Kingston.
Holly Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of Criminology
Holly Johnson's research interests include legal and societal responses to sexual violence and intimate partner violence. She served as expert advisor to the Secretary-General's report on violence against women and is member of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women and the International Evaluation Advisory Group for the Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls Global Programme at UN Women.
Miroslav Kljajic, graduate student
Miroslav Kljajic is a graduate student pursuing an MA in Economics.
Simon Lapierre, associate professor at the School of Social Work
Simon Lapierre is an expert on feminist intervention and on the theoretical foundations of social work. His research focuses on violence against women and child abuse prevention.
Sunny Marriner, executive director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre
Sunny Marriner has over 16 years’ experience as a member of Ottawa-based movements to end violence against women, and has provided direct support to survivors in conjunction with community leadership and outreach initiatives, such as lectures, training programs, policy analysis, and articles on issues related to sexual violence.
Sonya Nigam, director of the Office of Human Rights
Under Sonya Nigam’s guidance and leadership, the Office of Human Rights manages campus-wide policies that promote diversity and inclusion, including employment equity and accessibility policies, and administers policies, procedures and complaints that involve harassment and discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Michael Orsini, director of the Institute of Women’s Studies
Michael Orsini is an associate professor at the School of Political Studies who conducts research in critical approaches to public policy, citizen engagement, the role of social movements in policy processes, as well as autism, HIV/AIDS and illnesses that affect marginalized people.
Elizabeth A. Sheehy, full professor and Shirley Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession at the Faculty of Law
Elisabeth Sheehy is a leading scholar whose research, consultancy and advocacy work has focussed on legal responses to violence against women. In 2013, she was awarded the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law by the Canadian Bar Association, an annual award that recognizes outstanding contributions to law in Canada.
Action Team on Respect and Equality
In the Task Force on Respect and Equality's final report, recommendations on how to foster a campus culture that encourages respectful behaviour, prevents sexual violence and ensures that members of the community can learn and work free of sexual violence were made and fully accepted. In February 2015, an action team was created to oversee the implementation of those 11 recommendations.
The Action Team is proud of all the work that has been accomplished since it's creation in February 2015. Although there is still much work to be done, the Action Team is pleased to share its progress report (PDF).
Statement of values
- We are committed to creating and maintaining an environment where members of the University community can study and work free of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination based on race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, language, family status or disability.
- In day-to-day conduct and in developing policies, programs and procedures within the University, we promote equal opportunities and reduce inequalities that stem from the aforementioned statuses.
- We recognize that sexual violence, harassment and discrimination are fundamental affronts to an individual’s rights, dignity and integrity.
- We seek to prevent sexual violence, harassment and discrimination, including by safely intervening and speaking out when we see it occurring.
- We ensure that members of the University community who experience sexual violence, harassment or discrimination are supported and treated with compassion.
- We address acts of sexual violence, harassment or discrimination in the University community fairly and promptly.
- We are committed to a survivor-centred approach to addressing issues of sexual violence and the development of Francophone and Anglophone services.
- We acknowledge and combat broader social attitudes about gender, sex and sexuality that normalize sexual violence and undermine women’s equality.
- Vanessa Dorimain, Vice-President, University Affairs, SFUO
- Nicole Maylor, Vice-President, Equity, SFUO
- Gary Slater, Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs
- Jennie Abell, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section (APUO representative)
- Nicolette Addesa, Student Life Commissioner, GSAED
- Diane Bélanger-Brisson, SSUO-OSSTF Vice-President (staff representative)
- Elvio Bueno, Associate Vice-President, Human Resources
- Kelly-Dawn Clarahan, External Commissioner, GSAED
- Nathalie Dutrisac, Assistant to the Associate Vice-President, Student Affairs (ex officio)
- Laurence Clenett-Sirois, APTPUO representative
- Julie Gareau, Communications Officer, Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost (ex officio)
- Daphne Gilbert, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
- Kelly Gordon, PhD candidate, School of Political Studies (Task Force member)
- Pascale Lafrance, APNS representative (staff representative)
- Julie Lalonde, social justice advocate and public educator (community member)
- Simon Lapierre, Associate Professor, School of Social Work (Task Force member)
- Lise Martin, Executive Director, Canadian Network of Women’s Shelters and Transition Houses (community member)
- Michael Orsini, Full Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies (Task Force member)
- Véronic Tardif, Executive Assistant, Student Experience, Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost (ex officio)
- Caroline Tremblay, Senior Manager, Office of the President (ex officio and liaison)
Standing Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence
Following the recommendations of the Action Team on Respect and Equality, the Standing Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence was created to continue the work begun by its predecessors and to ensure a continuity to the prevention efforts across campus.
The Committee's mandate is to work in collaboration with the University community to promote a safe learning and working environment, to develop strategies and introduce initiatives to end sexual violence on campus, and to issue recommendations for the continued improvement of services, policies, processes and other initiatives in regards to sexual violence prevention.
Terms of reference
The Standing Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence was created on November 9, 2016, by resolution 2300.3 of.the Administration Committee.
The Standing Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence is a subcommittee of the Administration Committee.
Powers and duties
- Encourage student organizations, faculties and administrative units to work together to promote a safe learning and working learning environment for members of the University community
- Ensure continuity and implement the Action Team’s recommendations related to respect and equality
- Develop strategies and introduce initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of respect and ending sexual violence on campus
- Receive and review the annual reports from the Human Rights Office related to sexual violence and including the following information:
- The number of times students requested or received services, support or accommodations following an act of sexual violence and details on the particular services, support or accommodation measures requested or received
- Initiatives and programs introduced to promote awareness of services and support available to students
- The number and types of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students
- Details of implementation and effectiveness of Policy 67b, Prevention of Sexual Violence
- Make recommendations on Policy 67b, Prevention of Sexual Violence, to the Office of the President and ensure the policy is reviewed once annually for the first three years and every three years thereafter
- Make recommendations to the Office of the President on additional resources necessary or on any new measures to help end sexual violence on campus
- Make recommendations on allocating Women’s Campus Safety Grant funds
- Produce an annual report for the Office of the President for submission to the Board of Governors
- Review and make recommendations on proposals from the Human Rights Office for new sexual violence training programs, oversee implementation and coordination of these programs and monitor their effectiveness
- Monitor access to and implementation of academic accommodations and implementation of other measures aimed at ending sexual violence on campus while using a survivor-centered approach
The Committee is co-chaired by the Associate Vice-President of Student Services (permanent member), the Associate Vice-President of Student and International Affairs (permanent member) and a student member of the Standing Committee on the Prevention of Sexual Violence, chosen by fellow student members.
The Committee is composed of:
- A representative from outside the University community
- A student representative from the SFUO
- A student representative from the GSAÉD
- Two undergraduate students who are not executive members of a student association
- Two graduate students who are not executive members of a student association
- The Director of SASS (or delegate)
- The Director of the Human Rights Office
- The Human Right’s Office’s Sexual Violence Response Officer
- The Director of Protection Services (or delegate)
- A professor whose research is related to issues surrounding sexual violence in society
- A part-time professor whose research or teaching is related to issues surrounding sexual violence in society
- A representative from Human Resources
All members are appointed by the President.
The term of office for committee members is one year and is renewable.
Quorum is set at a majority of members.
Meetings will be held every three months or at the call of the co-chairs.
Secretarial services are provided by the Office of the Vice-President, Governance.