York U releases new Interim Guideline for Responding to Sexual Violence

Vari Hall as seen during the early evening

An important message from York Vice-President Finance and Administration Gary Brewer, and York Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton:

We are writing to provide the York community with an Interim Guideline for Responding to Sexual Violence.

The guideline outlines – for students, faculty, and staff – existing practices and services to address sexual violence and introduce new measures based on consultations with the community. This is an important step towards the development and implementation of York’s new Sexual Violence Policy, in accordance with the province’s new Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act. This new policy, which more broadly addresses the continuum of sexual violence, will replace York’s Sexual Assault Awareness, Education & Response Policy that was approved by the Board of Governors in February 2015.

An important measure in the guideline is a change in reporting requirements for sexual assaults. Notifying police services will now only occur with the consent of the survivor, unless there is an imminent safety risk to the community.

As part of the guideline, the University has established a Sexual Violence Response Office to coordinate support for all members of our community who have experienced sexual violence. This new office will be managed and supported during the interim period by the Office for Student Community Relations (OSCR) while we complete final arrangements in consultation with the community. Additional staff to support York’s commitments will be hired in the coming months.

All survivors of sexual violence are encouraged to contact the Sexual Violence Response Office (W128 Bennett Centre for Student Services, 416-736-5211, svro@yorku.ca) to discuss the range of options available to them. The phone number will be staffed on a 24-7 basis.

During the fall, the Sexual Violence Policy Working Group will continue its work and will increase its consultations with constituent groups across the community as follows:

  • October to November – community consultations with a wide range of student, staff and faculty groups or associations, smaller group discussions with survivors, as well as town hall meetings;
  • December – consolidating community input and revising the draft Sexual Violence Policy;
  • Early 2017 – submission to the Board of Governors for approval; and
  • January to February – training available to the community.

This Interim Guideline is an important step forward to help how we, as a community, understand the issue of sexual violence and respond to survivors in a supportive and meaningful way.

Gary Brewer
Vice-President Finance and Administration

Rhonda Lenton
Vice-President Academic and Provost