Interim Sexual Violence Support and Response Protocol

1. University Commitment

The University of Ottawa is committed to maintaining a campus that promotes respect for the dignity of every individual, free from sexual harassment, discrimination and violence. Our goal is to make our university a place where students, faculty and staff feel safe and secure. We pledge to foster mutual respect and create a campus where survivors of sexual violence can receive the support they need.

To this end, the University created a Task Force on Respect and Equality, which lead to an Action Team to implement all of the Task Force recommendations.

As well a comprehensive website entitled “Sexual Violence: Support and Prevention” has been developed, which provides information on how to report an incident, what resources are available for survivors and what you can do if you witness or become aware of an incident, as well as tools and other resources.

Everyone in the University of Ottawa community has a role to play in preventing and responding to sexual violence. For more information on roles and responsibilities refer to the Sexual Violence: Support and Prevention website.

2. Purpose of Protocol and Coming into Force

The purpose of this Interim Protocol on Sexual Violence (“Interim Protocol”) is to provide a survivor of sexual violence or a person who has knowledge of a sexual violence incident with information on reporting an incident and the available support that is provided once a report is made to the University.

This Interim Protocol is effective as of September 1, 2015 and will remain in force up to the time when the University of Ottawa adopts a sexual violence policy, as recommended by the Task Force on Respect and Equality.

3. Application of Protocol and Definitions

This Protocol applies to:

i)      any member of the university community who has been directly or indirectly affected by sexual violence;

ii)     incidents of sexual violence alleged to have occurred on or off university property.

“Members of the University community”: means all individuals who are involved with the University, including but not limited to:

i)      students, meaning individuals registered at the University, whether full-time or part-time (including special students), at the undergraduate or graduate level;

ii)     employees, including all unionized and non-unionized academic and support staff as well as those whose salary is paid through sources other than the University’s operating funds, such as grants, research grants and external contracts;

iii)    clinicians and physicians with an academic appointment; adjunct, visiting and emeritus professors; post-doctoral or clinical fellows; research trainees; and medical residents and visitors, including visiting students and volunteers;

iv)   contractors, suppliers or other entities hired by the University to provide services or goods;

v)    members of the Board of Governors and of the Senate; and

vi)   employees of both unionized and non-unionized employee and student groups when on University property while acting in a capacity defined by their relationship to the University.

“Sexual violence” means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation.

“Consent”: an active, direct, voluntary, unimpaired, and conscious choice and agreement to engage in sexual activity. These elements of consent must be present, even if alcohol or drugs have been consumed. If a survivor’s judgement is impaired, consent cannot be given. As well, impaired judgement on the part of a perpetrator leading to a mistaken belief that there is consent is no excuse.

For further clarity, consent:

  • Is never assumed nor implied
  • Is not silence or the absence of “no”
  • Cannot be given if an individual is impaired by alcohol or drugs, or is unconscious
  • Cannot be given if an individual is asleep
  • Can never be obtained through threats or coercion
  • Can be revoked at any time
  • Cannot be given if the perpetrator has abused a position of trust, power or authority.
  •  Might not be communicated properly if an individual has a condition that limits their verbal or physical means of interaction – in such instances, it is extremely important to establish how consent will be established.
4. Support and Services for Survivors

4. Support and Services for Survivors

The University encourages survivors of sexual violence to talk to somebody about what happened, so survivors can get the support they need and the University can respond appropriately.

When a person discloses an incident of sexual violence it is important to:

  • Listen without interrupting;
  • Validate the person’s experience,  while accepting their reactions and how they express themselves;
  • Help them determine which individuals they can trust for emotional support;
  • Encourage them to find the support they need, and let them make their own decisions.

The University’s Protection Services and/or Human Rights Office are responsible for responding to reports of sexual violence as described in this Interim Protocol.

However, prior to contacting or reporting to Protection Services or to the Human Rights Office, the person should be encouraged (and is always free) to  discuss the matter with their student federation and student federation services or their union or other employee association, and ask for support or advice, particularly if the person is concerned about confidentiality and is not seeking immediate action from the University.

If someone is in a position of authority over a survivor’s work or study environment and the survivor discloses an incident of sexual violence but has chosen not to pursue it further or wishes to preserve their anonymity, the person in authority must contact a Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Officer through the Human Rights Office to explore what, if any, corrective and/or preventative measures can be taken in the circumstances.

The University’s Sexual Violence: Support and Prevention website contains information on internal and external support services, including post-counselling support, and advocacy, as well as internal (non-criminal) and external (criminal) complaint processes.

Additional information, support and services are also available at the University:

And from the student federation and surrounding community:

  • Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)

All incidents of sexual violence pertaining to students that take place either on or off campus, can be reported to the VP Equity of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa by email at or in person at 07-35 University Private during regular business hours as posted on the SFUO front door and website. All information disclosed is private and confidential, and only shared with authorized persons when consent has been given by the survivor.

The SFUO representative can act as a liaison between the student and the Human Rights Office and provide information regarding support services that fit the needs of the survivor.

  • SFUO services:

Women’s Resource Centre

Pride Centre

Centre for Students with Disabilities

Student Rights Centre

Peer Help Centre

  • Off-campus services:

Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les aggressions à caractère sexuel (CALACS)

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC)

Ottawa Police Service

Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Program at the Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital

5. Confidentiality

5. Confidentiality

The University will make every reasonable effort to maintain confidentiality when it becomes aware of an incident of sexual violence and will limit disclosure of information about individuals to those within the University who need to know for the purposes of investigating or taking corrective action. Under the following circumstances, however, the University might face additional legal obligations and not be able to guarantee complete confidentiality:

i)          an individual is at risk of self‑harm;

ii)         an individual is at risk of harming an identified individual;

iii)        members of the University community or the broader community may be at risk of harm; and/or

iv)        reporting is required by law (e.g., in the case of a minor).

If a survivor tells a University employee about an incident of sexual violence but wishes to have a guarantee of complete confidentiality or anonymity or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, the University’s ability to meaningfully investigate a report of sexual violence and take appropriate action may be limited.  The University must weigh the survivor’s wishes against the University’s obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all members of the University community, including the survivor. The Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Officer at the University’s Human Rights Office can assist the employee with questions about confidentiality.

6. Reporting an Emergency

6. Reporting an Emergency

On-campus (24/7)

Anyone in an emergency (for example, an individual who feels an imminent threat of sexual violence or has just  experienced or witnessed an incident of sexual violence) should report this to Protection Services, by calling 613-562-5411, using one of the 140 emergency phones on campus, pressing the panic button that is located in many of the women’s washrooms, or going to 141 Louis Pasteur (main campus), Roger Guindon Hall, Room 2013 (Roger Guindon campus) or 200 Lees, Room C146 (Lees campus).

Protection Services will take the following immediate action: (1) provide first-aid treatment for the survivor and (2) ensure that any evidence which may be required in the event of possible criminal proceedings is preserved.  Protection Services will also conduct an assessment of the threat to the survivor and the uOttawa community and provide information to the survivor regarding internal and external support services, including post-incident counselling, advocacy and internal (non-criminal) and external (criminal) complaint processes.


For an off-campus emergency, contact police by dialing 911.

7. Reporting a Non-emergency Situation

7. Reporting a Non-emergency Situation

An individual can report an incident of sexual violence to either Protection Services or the Human Rights Office.

Protection Services

All incidents and threats of violence, including sexual violence, which take place either on or off campus, can be reported to Protection Services:

  • by telephone at 613-562-5499
  • in person at the Protection Services’ offices:
    • 141 Louis Pasteur (main campus)
    • Roger Guindon Hall, Room 2013 (Roger Guindon campus)
    • 200 Lees, Room C146 (Lees campus) 
  • to a Protection Services officer

Information about the report will be shared with the Human Rights Office and, if the survivor has provided consent, to those faculties and/or services that may be involved in providing accommodation or interim measures. Protection Services can undertake a threat assessment and act as a liaison with the Ottawa Police Service or other law enforcement agencies.

Survivors can contact Protection Services for a confidential appointment with a Protection Services investigator to review the incident or incidents of sexual violence and receive information regarding internal and external support services, including post-incident counselling, advocacy, and internal (non-criminal) and external (criminal) complaint processes.

Human Rights Office

All incidents of sexual violence, which take place either on campus or off-campus, can also be reported to the Human Rights Office by telephone at 613-562-5222, or in person at 1 Stewart Street, Room 121 during regular business hours as posted on its website.

All information provided is treated as private and confidential and is shared with faculties or other services only where authorization has been provided.

In addition, both formal and informal complaints of sexual violence can be made to a Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Officer through the Human Rights Office. An informal complaint can lead to redress for the survivor, such as an extension to submit a paper, or a letter of apology from the alleged perpetrator. A formal complaint can also lead to disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.

Interim measures, including academic and non-academic accommodations, can be put in place at any time during a formal or informal complaint process to separate the parties and stabilize the situation.

Survivors may contact the Human Rights Office for a confidential appointment with a Harassment & Discrimination Prevention Officer to review the incident or incidents of sexual violence and receive information regarding internal and external support services, including post-incident counselling, advocacy, and internal (non-criminal) and external (criminal) complaint processes.

Faculty of Medicine

Members affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine can also report incidents of sexual violence

The following offices can also offer support:

8. Follow-up and Support

8. Follow-up and Support

Following all reports of incidents of sexual violence, Protection Services or the Human Rights Office will form a response team, referred to as the “Response Team,” to ensure the ongoing safety and support of the survivor and others involved. The Director of the Human Rights Office is responsible for coordinating the work and meetings of the Response Team.

The Response Team will ensure that:

i)      information has been clearly communicated to the survivor regarding internal and external support and advocacy services, and internal (non-criminal) and external (criminal and other legal proceedings) complaint processes;

ii)     any academic or non-academic accommodation and interim measures to stabilize the situation and/or separate the parties are put in place; and

iii)    a threat assessment has been conducted.

The Response Team will include representatives of key services and faculties responsible for responding to incidents of sexual violence as follows:

  • Director, Human Rights Office;
  • Director, Protection Services or delegate;
  • Appropriate authority of the faculties or services involved or delegate, as required.

The Response Team can, on a confidential basis, consult or seek the assistance of other internal and external resources or parties relevant to the particular incident, such as the student federation, employee associations, rape crisis centres and counselling services.

9. Review

9. Review

This Interim Protocol will be reviewed once per session with student groups, unionized and non-unionized employee groups and key administrators to ensure that it is continuing to fulfill its stated purpose and to allow for adjustments as necessary. Notification of changes to the Interim Protocol will be given to the University community by email and through publication of the latest version of the Interim Protocol on the Sexual Violence website.

10. Related Policies

10. Related Policies

  • Policy 67a – Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination
  • Policy 67 – Sexual Harassment
  • Policy 66 – Prevention of Violence

Prepared by:   Action Team Sub-committee on Protocol

Co-chairs:       Sonya Nigam, Director, Human Rights Office, and Nicole Maylor, VP Equity, Student Federation of the University of Ottawa

Members:        Ariana Anam, Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Officer; Caroline Blouin, Residence Life Coordinator; Nathalie Charlebois, Investigator, Protection Services; Mireille Gervais, Director Student Rights Centre (SFUO); Lise Griffith, Associate Director, Health and Wellness, Human Resources; Caylie McKinaly (Student); Imroze Shaheen, Coordinator UO Student Emergency Response Team (Student); Ibtehaj Shahid, Gender Inclusivity Coordinator, SFUO; Amanda Turnbull, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Common Law

Reviewed by: Gary Slater, Associate Vice-President Student Affairs

Acknowledgement:     “Developing a Response to Sexual Violence: A Resource Guide for Ontario Colleges and Universities,” as well as the Queen’s University Interim Sexual Assault Support and Response Protocol and the Thompson Rivers University Interim Sexual Assault Support and Response Protocol.

Tools and resources

Please note that the feminine is used throughout this website, but it does not exclude any person who has been a victim of sexual violence.

Back to top