Sexual Assault and Sexualized Violence Policy

Policy Number: GC-4302-2015
Policy Title: Sexual Assault and Sexualized Violence
Policy Owner: Vice President, Students, International and Alumni & Vice President Corporate Services
Effective Date: March 31, 2015
Last Revised: February 16, 2022

On this Page:

  1. Purpose
  2. Application and Scope
  3. Definitions
  4. Principles
  5. Accountability and Compliance
  6. Rules
  7. Administration
  8. Attachments and Resources
  9. Specific Links

1. Purpose

Mohawk College is committed to preventing and addressing all forms of sexual assault and sexualized violence (herein referred to as sexualized violence) within the College Community. All members of this community (i.e. all students, employees, governors, volunteers, appointees, contractors/suppliers and invited guests) have a right to study, work and socialize in an environment free from all forms of sexualized violence.

The primary purpose of this policy and related procedures is to ensure that those affected are believed, appropriately supported and accommodated, and to set out the way in which the College responds to and addresses sexualized violence. It also makes it clear that the College’s process of investigation provides procedural fairness and holds individuals who have committed sexualized violence accountable.


2. Application and Scope

This policy applies to all members of the College Community who have experienced, been affected by, witnessed, been made aware of, or alleged to have committed an act of sexualized violence. It also applies to external organizations that lease College space, operate on College property, or are directly connected to any College initiatives.

The college will provide support in all incidents of sexualized violence involving members of the College Community. The college will investigate all incidents of sexualized violence when the conduct has a substantial link to the college, direct implications for students or staff or the educational mission of the college, and is within the college’s scope of responsibility.  This includes behaviour that occurs on or off campus and behaviour observed or carried out through an electronic, online or social media platform, or by using text, audio, video or images.


3. Definitions

“Sexualized violence” refers to any unwanted sexual acts and/or acts that are committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent. Sexualized violence includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation. Sexualized violence is about power, control, domination and/or humiliation rather than about sexual activity. Acts of sexualized violence may be physical or psychological in nature, and may be committed by individuals acting alone or in groups.
Such acts commonly target a person’s sexuality, gender identity, gender expression or are directed at individuals who do not conform to traditional male or female gender stereotypes.

“Sexual assault” is a criminal offence. The Criminal Code of Canada defines sexual assault as “any type of unwanted sexual act done by one person to another that violates the sexual integrity of the [survivor] and includes a range of behaviours from any unwanted touching to penetration. It involves the use of force, threats, or control that makes a person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, or is carried out in circumstances to which the person has not freely agreed, consented, or is incapable of consenting”.

“Sexual harassment” is a form of sexualized violence prohibited by the Ontario Human Rights Code. This term is used to describe behaviour or comments of a sexual nature or related to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that either is known or ought to be known to be unwelcome. Sexual harassment includes making unwelcome sexual solicitations, attentions, or advances; the implied or expressed promise of benefits or advancement in return for sexual favours; threats of reprisals for rejecting unwelcome solicitations or advances; engaging in comment or conduct that creates a hostile or poisoned environment to persons of a specific sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression; and incidents that occur through electronic means.

“Cyber Sexual Harassment” is defined by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as involving the use of communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others. Things to look for include:

  • Insulting or threatening emails, text messages or posts
  • Spreading embarrassing or private photos online
  • Impersonating an individual on social media
  • Creating a website, forum or group to insult or demean others
  • Statement of an intent to harm an individual in return for not revealing compromising information about them
  • Tricking someone into revealing personal information

“Stalking” is a form of criminal harassment prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada. It involves behaviours that occur on more than one occasion which collectively instill fear in the person or threaten the person’s safety or mental health, or that of their family and/or friends. These behaviours include, but are not limited to non-consensual communications (face to face, phone, electronic such as email, social media); making threatening or obscene gestures; surveillance and pursuit; cyberstalking; sending unsolicited gifts.

“Indecent Exposure” the exposure of the private or intimate parts of the body in a lewd or sexual manner, in a public place when the perpetrator may be readily observed. Indecent exposure includes exhibitionism.

“Sexual Exploitation” is taking advantage of another person through non-consensual or abusive sexual control. This may include the digital or electronic broadcasting, distributing, recording and or photographing of people involved in sexual acts without their consent.

“Voyeurism” is the concealed observation of a person without their consent and in circumstances where they could reasonably expect privacy. Voyeurism may include direct observation, observation by mechanical or electronic means, or visual recordings.

“Consent” is the act of voluntarily, and clearly, agreeing to engage in specific sexual activity. The definition of consent does not vary based on a person’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.


  • cannot be expressed by the words or actions of anyone other than the person participating in the sexual activity;
  • can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity;
  • does not exist when a person is incapable of consenting to the activity, or is persuaded to engage in sexual activity by an individual abusing a position of trust, power or authority.

It is imperative that everyone understands the following about consent:

  • The person who initiates sexual activity is responsible for obtaining clear and affirmative responses at all stages of sexual engagement. It is also the initiator’s responsibility to know if the person they are engaging with sexually has reached the age of consent for sexual activity.
  • Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent.
  • A person who is asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate, impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, or incapable of fully understanding the sexual acts cannot give consent.
  • A person who engages in sexual activity due to emotional manipulation, threats, extortion or other forms of pressure is not giving consent.
  • Consent to sexual activity should not be assumed on the basis of consent given in the past to a sexual activity or relationship.

“Age of Consent” in Canada is 16 years. The age of consent is the age at which a young person can legally agree to sexual activity. Age of consent laws apply to all forms of sexual activity, ranging from kissing and fondling to sexual intercourse. In other words, a person must be at least 16 years old to be able to legally agree to sexual activity. More information can be found at the Department of Justice's Age of Consent to Sexual Activity website.

“Survivor” is the term used in this policy to refer to an individual who has experienced sexualized violence. During a formal report and investigation, the survivor may also be referred to as the “complainant.” Using the word survivor instead of “complainant” or “victim” throughout the majority of this policy shifts the focus from the act of sexualized violence to the life of the individual after the incident. The person who has experienced these circumstances has the right to determine how they wish to be identified.

“Respondent(s)” is the term used in this policy to describe any person(s) alleged to have committed an act of sexualized violence.

“Interim Measures” are restrictions placed on an individual’s rights and privileges in order to ensure the safety of the College Community and provide time for the College to determine its response and conduct an investigation. Examples of such measures include restricting access to certain parts of campus and/or attending class. The College may impose interim measures immediately, prior to a full investigation.

“Procedural Fairness” is achieved by informing respondents of all allegations and evidence against them, and by giving them reasonable notice of the time, place and nature of the meeting where they can respond personally to the allegations. It also involves providing survivors and respondents with information about the College’s investigation and decision-making processes, and ensuring that outcomes are determined by an impartial decision maker. Procedural fairness under this policy does not include the right to be represented by an agent.

“Confidentiality” is the term used in this policy to refer to the College’s responsibility and obligation to ensure that any private and personal information provided in a disclosure, report and/or investigation of sexualized violence is collected, used, maintained and secured appropriately (see section 7.3 of this policy). Circumstances in which limits to confidentiality apply are outlined in Section 6.7 of this policy. The College will make every effort to maintain confidentiality of all persons involved in a disclosure or report of sexualized violence including the survivor, respondent and witnesses. All persons participating in the process are required to maintain confidentiality with respect to information provided in the course of the disclosure, reporting, assessment and/or investigation of an incident of sexualized violence.

Disclosures and Reporting

Members of the College Community who experience sexualized violence may choose none, one or all of the following reporting options:

“Disclosure” is the act of sharing information in order to receive support and services and/or to learn about options for reporting an incident of sexualized violence. An individual who has been affected may disclose information about the incident(s) to a trusted member of the College Community who can help them access supports and services.

College employees who receive disclosures are obligated to report the incident to Mohawk College Security Services (herein referred to as Security Services), but will not identify the survivor without consent. This reporting is required to enable the College to comply with Section 7.4 of Ontario Regulation 131/16, Sexual Violence at Colleges and Universities, under the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act, which requires reporting to the Minister “The number of incidents and complaints of sexual violence reported by students, and information about such incidents and complaints.” Names and personal information are not included in these reports.

“Informal Report” is an allegation of a violation of this policy made by a survivor to Security Services; this type of report may not result in a formal investigation by the College but can help ensure the safety of the College community. The survivor may choose to make a Formal College Report at a later time to initiate a formal investigation by the College.

An Informal Report results in a risk assessment that identifies supports and services that are unique to the survivor. If a risk to the safety of the survivor and/or the College Community is identified, Security Services will conduct an investigation and may inform the police of the need for a criminal investigation. The survivor has the right to choose not to participate in any investigation arising from an Informal Report.

“Formal College Report” is an allegation of a violation of this policy made by a survivor (also referred to as a complainant during a formal investigation) to Security Services in order to initiate an investigation. This type of report may not be made anonymously, and the College is obligated to inform respondents of allegations made against them. Making a Formal College Report does not prevent the survivor from also reporting the incident to police.

“Formal Police Report” refers to the process of reporting a crime (e.g. sexual assault, criminal harassment) to the police who will conduct an investigation that may result in criminal charges. This type of report cannot be made anonymously. Security Services cannot report to police on behalf of the survivor, but will offer to assist the individual in doing so.

“Third Party Report” is the act of sharing information with Security Services by any member of the College Community who has witnessed, has knowledge of, or has received a Disclosure of an incident of sexualized violence. Those making Third Party reports will not identify the survivor without consent. Members of the College Community can make these reports in person, by phone, or by using an online College supported anonymous reporting tool. Security Services will manage Third Party Reports as Informal Reports.

“Risk Assessment” is the procedure initiated to ensure the safety of the survivor and the College Community when Security Services is notified of an act of sexualized violence.

Security Services will keep the identity of the survivor confidential during the processes of assessing risk and consulting with relevant stakeholders to determine the College’s response. The risk assessment process will determine if any of the following three conditions exist:

  • an individual is at imminent risk of self-harm;
  • an individual is at imminent risk of harming another person;
  • there are reasonable grounds to believe that others in the College or wider community may be at risk of harm.

If any of the three conditions are met, complete confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The subsequent process which is called a violence risk assessment may include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • a process to evaluate the respondent with respect to the risk that they may commit violence in the future. This includes looking at the nature, severity, imminence, and frequency of violence, as well as the steps that can be taken to minimize these risks to protect the personal safety of the survivor and the College Community. These measures may include a plan to manage the respondent during the investigation process, and involving the police if there is a threat to the College Community.

“Intersecting Identities/Intersectionality” are terms used to describe ways of thinking about the complexities of and relationships between the many aspects of people’s identities (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual identity, disability/ability, age); these identities do not exist in isolation. The concept of intersectionality recognizes that each aspect of identity is related to a person’s social power and affects their vulnerability to oppression and experience of sexualized violence.

“Accommodation” is the provision of individualized support or alternative means of fulfilling academic or employment responsibilities for survivors. The arrangement of accommodations recognizes the experience of survivors and how that may affect participation in academics or workplace duties. For students, an accommodation does not remove the essential requirements of a course or a program, nor does it fundamentally alter standards for assigning grades, or requirements that students independently demonstrate their knowledge of course material. Accommodations for survivors who are employees may include reduced workload, leave of absence, or other provisions available through the College’s applicable employee benefits package. All accommodations will respect confidentiality and will be facilitated without providing details to instructors or supervisors.


4. Principles

The College is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive and safe campus culture in which sexualized violence is not tolerated. This includes working to eliminate sexualized violence through ongoing education, awareness and preventive activities and providing support to anyone in our College Community who has been affected by sexualized violence. The College recognizes that individuals affected by these acts may experience emotional, academic or other difficulties, and will provide appropriate supports, services and academic or workplace accommodations. This policy aims to encourage those who have been affected by or witnessed incidents of sexualized violence to make a report. The College will assess and respond to all disclosures and reports of sexualized violence and investigate as required. The college has trained individuals to sensitively and appropriately support and respond to individuals experiencing any act of sexualized violence.

The College recognizes that sexualized violence can occur between individuals regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, relationship status, and other grounds for discrimination identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code. The College also recognizes that because a person’s ability to offer or refuse consent is affected by the interplay of power, identity, and privilege between those involved, sexualized violence and its consequences disproportionately affect members of society that experience marginalization, persistent patterns of inequality, and/or intersecting forms of systemic discrimination.


5. Accountability and Compliance

5.1 Accountability Framework

This policy has been approved by the Board of Governors.

5.2 Compliance

The Vice President, Corporate Services and Associate Vice President, Student Services will ensure that this policy is applied and that all actions comply with applicable legislation.


6. Rules

6.1 Commitment to Prevention and Elimination Activities

The College demonstrates its commitment to preventing and eliminating sexualized violence through the following initiatives:

  • Advisory Committee: an active Sexual Assault and Sexualized Violence committee made up of College staff, students, faculty and representatives of the community;
  • Student Input: implementing a process for incorporating student perspectives into development and revision of this policy and procedures;
  • Education and Awareness: publishing current policies and procedures addressing sexualized violence; developing and facilitating ongoing campaigns, training sessions, workshops, programs and events that raise awareness of sexualized violence, rape culture, and address harmful attitudes and behaviours that reinforce the misconception that the survivor is to blame; providing consent education; and promoting consent culture and bystander intervention.
  • Support Resources: providing a variety of resources on relevant topics such as how to seek support, resources for survivors, advice and resources for all members of the College Community on responding appropriately to disclosures and supporting survivors.
  • Immediate Response: persons in a position of authority at the College, including persons directing the activities of others (i.e. managers, classroom faculty, etc.) who become aware of sexualized violence shall take immediate action to respond to this information guided by this policy.

6.2 Encouragement to Disclose and Report Sexualized Violence

All members of the College Community who have been affected by sexualized violence are encouraged to disclose their experience to a trusted member of the College Community or report to Security Services as soon as they are able to do so. Individuals are not required to report in order to receive supports, services or accommodations.

  • Amnesty from College Sanctions: The College recognizes that some individuals may be hesitant to disclose or report sexualized violence that occurred in situations where they were drinking while under age or using illegal drugs. In accordance with provincial regulations, a survivor or other members of the College Community who discloses or reports sexualized violence will not be subject to College sanctions for violations of College policies related to their use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs at the time of the incident.
  • Anonymous and Third Party Reports: Individuals who experience sexualized violence may choose to disclose to College staff anonymously (i.e. without providing their name or personal information). The College will provide individuals who make anonymous disclosures with information on supports, services, accommodations, interim safety measures, and other available options.

6.3 Obligation to Report

College employees, governors, volunteers, appointees, suppliers, contractors, etc. who witness or have knowledge of sexualized violence have an obligation to make a Third Party Report immediately to Security Services. Students, visitors and all other members of the College Community are strongly encouraged to make a Third Party Report to Security Services.

6.4 Support for Survivors who disclose or report Sexualized Violence

The College is committed to responding to all disclosures/reports of sexualized violence in a consistent, respectful and supportive manner. A full list of support services is provided in the Attachments and Resources section of this policy. Supportive responses will include the following:

  • Trust: survivors who disclose or report their experience to a member of the College Community can expect to be believed.
  • Compassion: ensuring that the response to those who disclose that they have been affected by sexualized violence is compassionate and non-judgmental and that their right to dignity and respect is protected throughout the processes of disclosure, investigation and institutional response.
  • Sensitivity: During the investigative process, survivors will not be asked irrelevant questions from staff or investigators, such as those relating to past sexual history or sexual expression.
  • Safety: the College will take every reasonable step to protect the safety and security of survivors and the College Community.
  • Choices and options: providing those who have been affected by sexualized violence with detailed information about their choices and options for support and reporting, including the roles of various areas of the College in providing services and supports and responding to incidents of sexualized violence.
  • Self-determination: survivors of sexualized violence can expect the College to respect their right to make the final decisions about their own best interests in determining their next steps following a disclosure or report.
  • Cultural competence: ensuring that the response to sexualized violence is informed by an awareness that individuals may be targeted due to a number of factors (e.g. gender, non-binary gender identity or expression, race, ethnicity, religion, ability/disability, age) and providing culturally appropriate supports, services and resources.
  • Academic and Workplace Accommodations: Survivors may need additional support and flexibility in order to continue their regular day-to-day work or curricular activities. The College will make/facilitate all reasonable accommodations.
  • Right to Withdraw a Report: A survivor has the right to withdraw a report at any stage of the subsequent investigation process. Where a report has been withdrawn, the survivor may choose at any time to reactivate the report to continue with the investigation process. If the College determines that an incident about which a report has been withdrawn puts the safety of other members of the College Community at risk, it will conduct an internal investigation and/or may inform police. In these circumstances, the College will make every effort to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of person(s) affected.

6.5 Protection from Reprisals, Retaliation or Threats

It is a violation of this Policy for anyone to retaliate, engage in reprisals or threaten to retaliate against a survivor or other individual for:

having pursued rights under this Policy or the Ontario Human Rights Code;
having participated or cooperated 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.

The College will take reasonable steps to protect persons from reprisal, retaliation and threat; examples of such steps include advising individuals in writing of their duty to refrain from committing a reprisal, restricting an individual’s access to areas of the campus, and restricting their communication.

6.6 Unsubstantiated Reports

If a person discloses or makes a report about an incident of sexualized violence that is not supported by evidence gathered during an investigation, that report will be dismissed and no record of it will be placed in the individual’s academic or employment files.

6.7 Limits of Confidentiality

The College will restrict access to all information provided in the disclosure and processes related to a report and investigation of an incident of sexualized violence to individuals with a legitimate need for such access, and will provide education and training to those who are regularly involved in receiving disclosures and the administration of reports.

However, confidentiality cannot be assured in circumstances where:

  • the College’s Risk Assessment process determines that a risk to an individual or the College Community exists.
  • A Formal College Report has been made and the respondent must be informed of the details of the Report as part of the investigation and in keeping with Procedural Fairness; and/or
  • reporting is required by law.

In such circumstances, information will be shared only with services necessary to prevent harm, and the name of the survivor will not be released.

6.8 Investigation and Adjudication

Both the survivor and the respondent have the right to procedural fairness, which must prevail in all investigations. In order to adhere to College policies, standards and applicable collective agreements, specific investigation and adjudication procedures will apply when the respondent is a college employee, and another set of procedures will apply when the respondent is a student. These procedures will include appeal procedures. The college will assess and respond to disclosures and reports of sexualized violence and investigate as required. The college has trained individuals to sensitively and appropriately support and respond to individuals experiencing any act of sexualized violence. Survivors have the right to choose not to participate in the investigation after their initial disclosure or report.


7. Administration

7.1 Policy Revision Date

February 2027

7.2 Policy Responsibility

The Vice President, Corporate Services and Associate Vice President, Students, International and Alumni will review this policy every five years, or earlier where required.

7.3 Information Storage and Security

Security Services will collect, maintain and secure all pertinent information gathered through Informal, Formal and Third Party Reports and subsequent investigations.

Information will remain confidential. Aggregate data about the numbers of reports received annually will be shared as per section 7.4 of this policy.

7.4 Annual Reports

The Dean of Students’ Office, Equity and Inclusion Office, the Student Rights and Responsibilities Office and Security Services, work together on behalf of the college to complete annual reports about Sexual Violence. The College is responsible for collecting and summarizing for the Ontario Government, “such data and information related to the following as may be requested by the Minister, in the manner and form directed by the Minister” and providing an annual report to the College’s Board of Governors, as required by Section 17 of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act (MTCU Act):

  1. “The number of times supports, services and accommodation relating to sexual violence are requested and obtained by students enrolled at [the College], and information about the supports, services and accommodation;
  2. Any initiatives and programs established by [the College] to promote awareness of the supports and services available to students;
  3. The number of incidents and reports of sexual violence reported or disclosed to the College, and information about such incidents and reports; and
  4. The implementation and effectiveness of the Policy. 2016, c. 2, Sched. 3, s. 1.”


8. Attachments and Resources


9. Specific Links