1) PurposeMohawk College is committed to maintaining the safety and well-being of all staff, students and members of the College community. All members of the Mohawk College community have a right to a work and study in an environment that is free from any form of sexual violence. This policy sets out the reporting and complaint process as well as the response protocol to sexual violence. The College ensures that those who experience sexual violence are believed and that their rights are respected by ensuring that the College has a process of investigation that protects the rights of individuals and holds individuals accountable who have committed an act of sexual violence
2) Application and ScopeThis policy applies to all members of the College community including all employees, governors, students, contractors, suppliers, volunteers and visitors who have experienced, witnessed or were made aware of an act of sexual assault or violence. This policy also applies to external organizations that lease College space, operate on College property or who are directly connected to any College initiatives.
3) Definitions“Acquaintance sexual assault” is sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend or acquaintance.
“Age of consent for sexual activity” is the age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity. In Canada, children under 12 can never legally consent to sexual acts. Sixteen is the legal age of consent for sexual acts. There are variations on the age of consent for adolescents who are close in age between the ages of 12 and 16. Twelve and 13 year-olds can consent to have sex with other youth who are less than 2 years older than themselves. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may consent to sexual involvement that is mutual with a person who is less than 5 years older. Youths 16 and 17 years old may legally consent to sexual acts with someone who is not in a position of trust or authority.
“Coercion” in the context of sexual violence, coercion is unreasonable and persistent pressure for sexual activity. Coercion is the use of emotional manipulation, blackmail, threats to family or friends, or the promise of rewards or special treatment, to persuade someone to do something they do not wish to do, such as being sexual or performing particular sexual acts. “Consent” refers to the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. It is the act of willingly agreeing to engage in specific sexual behaviour, and requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. This means that there must be an understandable exchange of affirmative words which indicates a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. It is also imperative that everyone understands the following:
- Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent and a person in a state of diminished judgment cannot consent.
- A person is incapable of giving consent if are asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate.
- A person who has been threatened or coerced (i.e. is not agreeing voluntarily) into engaging in the sexual activity is not consenting to it.
- A person who is drugged is unable to consent.
- A person is usually unable to give consent when they are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- A person may be unable to give consent if they have a mental disability preventing them from fully understanding the sexual acts.
- The fact that consent was given in the past to a sexual or dating relationship does not mean that consent is deemed to exist for all future sexual activity.
- A person is incapable of giving consent to a person in a position of trust, power or authority, such as, a faculty member initiating a relationship with a student who they teach, an administrator in a relationship with anyone who reports to that position.
Note: For information purposes only, the Criminal Code defines “consent” as follows:
The voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. No consent is obtained, where
- the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the complainant;
- the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity;
- the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
- the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity; or
- the complainant, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
“Sexual assault” is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the victim and involves a range of behaviours from any unwanted touching to penetration. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, or that is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of consenting to.
“Sexual violence” is a broad term that describes any violence, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means or by targeting sexuality. This violence takes different forms including sexual abuse and sexual assault.
“Stalking” is a form of criminal harassment prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada. It involves behaviours that occur on more than one occasion and which collectively instill fear in the victim or threaten the victim/target’s safety or mental health. Stalking can also include threats of harm to the target’s friends and/or family. These behaviours include, but are not limited to non-consensual communications (face to face, phone, email, social media); threatening or obscene gestures; surveillance; sending unsolicited gifts; “creeping” via social media/cyber-stalking; and uttering threats.
“Survivor” is the term used throughout this policy referring to an individual who has experienced sexual assault or sexual violence as some believe they have overcome the violent experience and do not wish to identify with the victimization. It is the prerogative of the person who has experienced these circumstances to determine how they wish to identify.
4) PrinciplesSexual assault and sexual violence are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Mohawk College is committed to challenging and preventing sexual violence and creating a safe space for anyone in our College community who has experienced sexual violence. The College is expected to be a safe and positive space where members of the College community feel able to work, learn and express themselves in an environment free from sexual violence.
All reported incidents of sexual violence will be investigated to the best of the administration’s ability and in a manner that ensures due process. No individual should feel uncomfortable about making a report in good faith about sexual violence that they have experienced or witnessed.
The College recognizes that sexual violence can occur between individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity or relationship status as articulated in the Ontario Human Rights Code. We also recognize that individuals who have experienced sexual violence may experience emotional, academic or other difficulties.
The College is committed to:
- Assisting those who have experienced sexual violence by providing detailed information and support, including provision of and/or referral to counselling and medical care, information about legal options and appropriate academic or workplace accommodation;
- Ensuring that those who disclose that they have been sexually assaulted are believed, and that their right to dignity and respect is protected throughout the process of disclosure, investigation and institutional response;
- Addressing harmful attitudes and behaviours (e.g. adhering to myths of sexual violence) that reinforce that the person who experienced sexual violence is somehow to blame for what happened;
- Treating individuals who disclose sexual violence with compassion recognizing that they are the final decision-makers about their own best interests;
- Ensuring that on-campus (internal) investigation procedures are available in the case of sexual violence, even when the individual chooses not to make a report to the police;
- Engaging in appropriate procedures for investigation and adjudication of a complaint which are in accordance with College policies, standards and applicable collective agreements, that ensure fairness and due process;
- Engaging in public education and prevention activities;
- Providing information to the College community about our sexual violence policies and procedure;
- Providing appropriate education and training to the College community about responding to the disclosure of sexual violence; and to
- Contributing to the creation of a campus atmosphere in which sexual violence is not tolerated.
5) Accountability and Compliance5.1 Accountability Framework
This policy has been approved by the Senior Management Team.
The Vice President, Corporate Services will ensure that the information within this policy is applied and that all actions comply with applicable legislation.
6) Rules6.1 Disclosing and Responding to Sexual Violence
- Members of the College community must immediately disclose incidents where they are subject to, have witnessed or have knowledge of, or where they have reason to believe that sexual violence has occurred or may occur. Members who have experienced sexual violence are encouraged to come forward to report as soon as they are able to do so.
- Persons in a position of authority, including persons directing the activities of others, shall take immediate action to respond to or to prevent sexual violence from occurring.
- Where the College becomes aware of incidents of sexual violence by a member of the College community or against a member of the College community, which occur on or off College property and that pose a risk to the safety of members of the College community, the College shall take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the College community.
A complaint of sexual assault or sexual violence can be filed under this Policy by any member of the College community.
The College will seek to achieve procedural fairness in dealing with all complaints. As such, no sanction and/or disciplinary action will be taken against a person or group without their knowledge where there is an alleged breach of this Policy. Respondents will be given reasonable notice, with full detail of the allegations and provided with an opportunity to answer to the complaints made against them.
- 6.2.1 Disclosure
While the College recommends the prompt disclosure of sexual violence, Mohawk recognizes that survivors of sexual violence may experience mental or psychological impediments which may impact their desire to disclose. As such, survivors may disclose acts of sexual violence at any time and the College will respond as required.
- 6.2.2 Right to Withdraw a Complaint
A survivor has the right to withdraw a complaint at any stage of the process. However, the College may continue to act on the issue identified in the complaint if the College determines that the complaint poses a direct threat to the College community.
Where a complaint has been withdrawn, the survivor may choose at any time to continue with a formal investigation.
- 6.2.3 Protection from Reprisals, Retaliation or Threats
It is contrary to this Policy for anyone to retaliate, engage in reprisals or threaten to retaliate against a survivor or other individual for:
Any individual engaged in such conduct may be subject to sanctions and/or discipline.
- having pursued rights under this Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code;
- having participated or co-operated in an investigation under this Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code; or
- having been associated with someone who has pursued rights under this Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- 6.2.4 Unsubstantiated or Vexatious Complaints
If a person, in good faith, discloses or files a sexual assault or violence complaint that is not supported by evidence gathered during an investigation, that complaint will be dismissed and no record of it will be placed in the survivor’s or respondent’s academic or employment file. Disclosures or complaints that are found following investigation to be frivolous, vexatious or bath faith complaints, that is, made to purposely annoy, embarrass or harm the respondent, may result in sanctions and/or discipline against the complainant.
Every effort will be taken to maintain confidentiality in respect to information provided in the disclosure of a sexual assault or act of sexual violence. The College will maintain confidentiality of all persons involved in a report of sexual violence including the survivor, respondent and witnesses. In some instances the College may have the responsibility to consult with necessary College officials and to any requirement imposed by law. It is a requirement that any person participating in the complaint process will maintain confidentiality with respect to information provided in the course of a sexual violence assessment and investigation.
However, confidentiality cannot be assured in the following circumstances:
- an individual is at imminent risk of self-harm;
- an individual is at imminent risk of harming another; and/or
- there are reasonable grounds to believe that others in the College or wider community may be at risk of harm.
Where the College becomes aware of an allegation of sexual violence by a member of the College community against another member of the College community, the College may also have an obligation to take steps to ensure that the matter is dealt with in order to comply with the College’s legal obligation and/or its policies to investigate such allegations. In such cases, certain College administrators will be informed about the reported incident on a “need to know” and confidential basis, but not necessarily of the identities of the persons involved.