Addressing Gendered Violence at Laurier
The Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy
Laurier has a gendered and sexual violence policy that sets out the process for how Laurier responses to and addresses gendered and sexual violence involving students. The policy outlines the university's commitment to the provision of education and supports and outlines survivors' options.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if someone tells me they’ve experienced gendered or sexual violence?
Here is a basic guide for when someone tells you they’ve experienced gendered violence, or “discloses” to you. A couple of important pieces to keep in mind: 1) Listen to the person and tell them you believe them, 2) Don’t make assumptions about what the person wants or needs, 3) Provide referrals or resources with their consent & 4) Don’t forget that support is available to you if you’d like help. We recommend referring victims or survivors to Sexual Violence Support Advocate, Sarah Scanlon, for advocacy and assistance understanding their options, or to a 24-7 Support and Crisis line run by our partners at the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant (519.751.3471) or the Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region (519.741.8633).
When someone is disclosing their experience of sexual violence to you, you have a responsibility to treat that person with respect. Do not press someone for details, pressure them to pursue a particular course of action that you feel would be best, or ask them a lot of “why” questions (for e.g. “Why were you out late alone? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”). These responses can make a survivor feel blamed, ashamed, and like they don’t have control over their experience.
Responding with care and avoiding reinforcing rape myths and stereotypes can help survivors feel safer to access the supports they need.
For more in-depth training on responding to disclosures of Sexual Violence we recommend this online module or get in touch with our office by e-mailing Lynn Kane, Manager of Gendered Violence Prevention and Support email@example.com to find out about upcoming opportunities.
What is gendered and sexual violence?
Gendered Violence is an umbrella term that includes acts or actions that reinforce gender inequities that result in harm. This can include sexism, discrimination, harassment, biphobia, transphobia, homophobia, intimate partner violence and forms of sexual violence. Sexual Violence is a form of Gendered Violence that involves any act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity, or gender expression, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without their consent. Both gendered and sexual violence can be physical or psychological in nature and either can take place in person or on any communication platform (such as in online environments, or through the use of phones).
What do I do if I want to file a complaint against a faculty or staff member?
Complaints against staff or faculty members are addressed by the university’s Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination Policy (6.1) and can be filed with the Office of Dispute Resolution and Support. Support is available to help you navigate these policies and understand which one best applies to you. You can contact the Sexual Violence Support Advocate, Sarah Scanlon, at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Senior Advisor, Dispute Resolution and Support, Dawn Ricker, at email@example.com.
I’m a student but I also work for the university, which policy applies to me?
As a student the primary policy that applies to you is the Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy. However if an incident of gendered or sexual violence is related to your role or takes place in your workplace the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination Policy (6.1) or the Workplace Violence Prevention Policy (7.18) may be more applicable. Support is available to help you navigate these policies and understand which one best applies to you. You can contact the Sexual Violence Support Advocate, Sarah Scanlon, at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Senior Advisor, Dispute Resolution and Support, Dawn Ricker, at email@example.com.
I am not sure my experience counts as gendered or sexual violence. How do I know if I can use this policy?
The Sexual Violence Support Advocate, Sarah Scanlon (firstname.lastname@example.org), can help you understand which actions constitute gendered and sexual violence, whether this policy has procedures that meet your needs and if your experience falls under the scope of this policy. Whether or not this policy is the right one for you your experience matters and supports are available to you. For 24-7 support (including support understanding what constitutes gendered and sexual violence) you can contact the Support and Crisis line run by our partners at the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant (519.751.3471) or the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (519.741.8633).
The person who caused me harm is not affiliated with Laurier. How does that change things?
It doesn’t change the support services that are available to you on campus. You can access the help of the Sexual Violence Support Advocate, Sarah Scanlon (email@example.com), the Sexual Violence Counsellor and Advocate in Brantford, Hayley Moody (Hayley@sacbrant.ca), a Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region Counsellor at the Waterloo Campus (firstname.lastname@example.org), or either of the 24-7 crisis and support lines supporting our communities (Sexual Assault Centre of Brant 519.751.3471, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region 519.741.8633). However we cannot process official complaints against people who are not affiliated with Laurier. You may choose to explore reporting to the Regional Police. The Sexual Violence Support Advocate can help guide you through what to expect when filing a report. The police can be contacted at 911 for emergencies or at 519.653.7700 in Waterloo and at 519.756.0113 in Brantford.
What is the difference between a disclosure, a report and an official complaint?
- A disclosure can be made to anyone and is often made to trusted peers, leaders or support persons. It is when a person who has experienced Gendered and/or Sexual Violence tells someone else about their experience. Disclosures may be made to seek support, explore options, or to communicate about an experience. People who disclose may or may not desire any additional support or any further action.
- A report can be made with certain university staff in order to generate a record of a case or coordinate a response. Reports can be made about an incident that you experienced personally or about acts of Gendered or Sexual Violence that impact the broader community (for e.g. hate graffiti). Reports may be filed by the person who has experienced Gendered and/or Sexual Violence, witnesses, or those who have become aware of an incident. Reports may also be filed anonymously however the university’s ability to respond may be limited depending on the information available. The university records all Reports.
- An official complaint may prompt an internal or external investigation and may result in a range of possible accountability measures and sanctions such as restrictions of services, behavioural contracts, suspension or expulsion. Official complaints cannot be anonymous and the person who the complaint is filed against will receive a copy of the complaint.
I experienced sexual violence but I was drinking/doing drugs at the time. If I disclose, report or file a complaint will I get in trouble?
If I report Gendered or Sexual Violence to the university will it be kept confidential? When I tell someone at the university are they obliged to tell others?
If you report Gendered or Sexual Violence to the university the university may be required to share information internally about your case in order to coordinate supports, assess risk, or implement interim measures. In most cases an identification ID will be used instead of a name and only those who need to know about the case for the purposes of implementing the policy will be involved. The university will not inform external agencies, such as the police, unless it is necessary to do so. The policy details a list of the limits to confidentiality. Counselling supports can be accessed confidentially through our partnerships with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (email@example.com) and the Sexual Assault Centre of Brant (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What if I want support or accommodations (such as switching classes) but I don’t want the person(s) who caused me harm to know or get in trouble?
Classroom and campus accommodations are available to you whether or not you want to file an official complaint. The person who caused harm will not be informed about your accommodation requests. Switching classes may be an option for you however there is the possibility that the person who caused you harm will notice. Putting in place a personal safety plan with the assistance of the Sexual Violence Support Advocate may help you manage these situations.
Why does the policy include an opportunity for cross examination?
The regulations associated with Bill 132, the Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment) state that Universities must include a description of the elements of procedural fairness that will be a part of decision-making processes. A central element of procedural fairness is the right to know and challenge evidence through an oral hearing when credibility is in issue and the consequences of a decision are significant. Cross-examinations will not always be necessary. A range of supports and testimonial aids may be available should a witness be asked to take part in a cross-examination.
Where do I go to get training?
The Diversity and Equity Office coordinates bystander intervention training, responding to disclosure training, training on consent, and customized training about gendered and sexual violence. The Sexual Assault Centre of Brant and Sexual Assault Centre of Waterloo Region also provide public education support to the Laurier community. To find out about upcoming opportunities or to arrange training for your class or association, please contact the Manager, Gendered Violence Prevention and Support, Lynn Kane, at email@example.com. There are also online resources available to you if you’re looking to do more learning on your own about gendered and sexual violence. Some websites we recommend include: consentisgolden.ca, learningtoendabuse.ca, INCITE, and Scarleteen.
How do I provide feedback on the policy or ask questions that aren’t included here?
You can provide feedback on the policy to the Manager, Gendered Violence Prevention and Support, Lynn Kane at firstname.lastname@example.org. The policy will be reviewed at least every three years or more often as may be required. Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to the meaningful inclusion of student voices in the development of its policies and procedures that relate to students’ experiences sexual and gendered violence. When reviewing the policy the Chair or members of the Policy Working Group of the Gendered Violence Task Force will prioritize consultation with members from student groups most impacted by or vulnerable to gendered violence. To have questions answered that aren’t addressed in this document, you can contact Lynn Kane, the Manager, Gendered Violence Prevention and Support, at email@example.com or Sarah Scanlon, the Sexual Violence Support Advocate, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Gendered Violence Task Force
Addressing Gendered Violence at Laurier is a team effort supported by the Gendered Violence Task Force (GVTF). The GVTF is made up of staff, faculty, and students from across Laurier in Kitchener, Waterloo and Brantford. Their mission is to work toward the elimination of Gendered Violence at Laurier — and to support the healing of those who have experienced it — through continuous inclusive dialogue, meaningful and ongoing training initiatives, accessible policies and protocols, community engagement, support services and campus collaborations.
The GVTF consists of five working groups. Each working group welcomes student, staff, and faculty involvement and all have membership open on an ongoing basis. If you would like to volunteer to be a part of the task force or are interested in learning more, contact the GVTF Coordinator Lynn Kane at email@example.com or 519.884.0710 x4710.
Research and Assessment
The mission of this working group is to support WLU's efforts to address and eliminate gendered violence on campus and beyond by ensuring that WLU's gendered violence policies, services, and educational programs and initiatives are evidence based and rigorously evaluated. Working collaboratively with the Gendered Violence Task Force, its other working groups, and other university and community partners, this working group will achieve its mission by:
- Designing and implementing WLU-wide research projects that regularly examine the perceptions, experiences, and well-being of students, staff, and faculty related to gendered violence on campus. These studies will be instrumental in informing policy and program development, and in tracking WLU's success in addressing gendered violence on campus;
- Brokering relationships between WLU students and faculty interested in conducting specific research projects related to gendered violence on campus;
- Facilitating the development of a clearinghouse for research conducted by WLU community members that addresses gendered violence on university campuses and beyond; and,
- Providing consultation services related to research and evaluation to other workgroups. This may include identifying and synthesizing research publications on identified topics, and facilitating introductions to partners within WLU who can strengthen the research and evaluation competencies of other workgroups.
Awareness and Communications
The mission of this working group is to support WLU's efforts to address gendered violence on campus and beyond by advising on awareness activities and developing communications strategies related to all aspects of gendered violence. Working collaboratively with the Gendered Violence Task Force, its other working groups, and other university and community partners, this working group will achieve its mission by:
- Taking stock of, reviewing, advising on and promoting existing awareness activities
- Developing or advising on institutional strategies for key communication channels including wlu.ca and the institutions’ social media platforms (youtube, twitter, Facebook)
- Brokering relationships between campaigns and campaigners within and outside the Laurier community
- Developing institutional strategies for bringing awareness to the gendered and sexual violence policy and protocols
- Providing consultation services to those participating in communications and awareness activities (conferences, media appearances, etc.) by directing people to relevant resources and advising on content
- Mobilizing internal research recommendations related to communications (for e.g. The Change Project, The Rape Culture Project)
Education and Training
The mission of this working group is to support WLU's efforts to address gendered violence on campus and beyond by advising on educational activities and by developing training strategies for the University related to all aspects of gendered violence.
Working collaboratively with the Gendered Violence Task Force, its other working groups, and other university and community stakeholders, this working group will achieve its mission by:
- Taking stock of, reviewing, and advising on existing training or educational initiatives
- Developing institutional strategies for training and education for staff, faculty, and students
- Brokering relationships between public educators in the community and groups requesting or requiring training
- Providing pedagogical to individuals or groups developing training schedules or programs
- Leading Communities of Practices for trainers on campus to discuss facilitation techniques and continue developing facilitation skills.
Supports and Services
The mission of this working group is to support WLU's efforts to address and eliminate gendered based violence on campus and beyond by ensuring that WLU's internal supports and services are responsive, timely, survivor focussed, evaluated and relevant to our dynamic, and ever-changing environment. Working collaboratively with the Task Force, its other working groups, university and community partners, this working group will achieve its mission by:
- Making recommendations for internal service enhancement, and changes;
- Identifying gaps in services and bring forward suggestions for addressing those gaps in a timely and transparent manner;
- Actively and regularly engaging in opportunities to seek information that will influence recommendations;
- Making recommendations with regard to processes that will not only invite but will encourage discussion with and about students, staff, and faculty; perceptions, experiences, and well-being as it relates to accessing supports;
- Thoughtfully and consistently seek input from groups and individuals that may not feel they have a voice in influencing the development of victim centric supports and services. Special attention should be paid attention international and aboriginal students;
- Keeping confidential information that may identify survivors throughout all processes.
Policy and Procedures
The mission of this working group is to develop a stand-alone sexual violence policy which sets out the process for how Laurier will respond to and address Gendered and Sexual Violence involving Members of the University community.
This group will develop a policy which:
- Applies to all members of the University community
- Outlines the rights of survivors
- Commits to providing a range of supports that are responsive to the intersectionality of survivors
- Commits to providing ongoing education about Gendered and Sexual Violence to members of the University community
- Makes clear the limits to confidentiality
- Meets the requirements of Bill 132: The Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act and the associated regulations
Three faculty colleagues provide expertise and assistance to the GVTF and work closely with senior campus leaders as part of a leadership group focused on strategic planning and decision making.
Rebecca Godderis is an associate professor in Community Health and Society, Culture and Environment. Godderis has worked in the area of gender, sexuality and health for over a decade. Since 2009, she has been engaged in violence prevention work related to gender and sexuality on the Laurier Brantford campus and in the Brantford community.
Ginette Lafrenière is an associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work, director of the Social Innovation Research Group and director of the Manulife Centre for Community Health Research. Lafrenière has worked on issues related to intimate partner violence, gendered violence and sexual violence with vulnerable populations since 2006. Lafrenière, in tandem with the Sexual Assault Support Centre and her research team, spearheaded The Change Project which explores efforts to address gendered violence against students on campus as well as the gaps, barriers and challenges that need to be addressed.
Michael Woodford is an associate professor in the Faculty of Social Work. Woodford brings expertise in understanding the nature and effects of discrimination on LGBTQ students and bystanders. His work addresses attitudes toward LGBTQ individuals as well as LGBTQ students’ experiences and wellbeing. Woodford’s research will also help shape the development of a male allies program to address gendered violence on Laurier’s campuses.