Sheridan Embraces Provincial Initiative to Adopt New Sexual Assault Policy
Sheridan is working to finalize a new stand-alone Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy and Protocol that will be in place by March 31, following the endorsement of these documents by the presidents of Ontario’s 24 colleges at a meeting in Toronto last week.
“Ensuring our campuses are safe and positive spaces is a top priority,” said Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, President and CEO of Sheridan. “The new policy and protocol will help ensure that clear information is widely available and that there is immediate and effective help for victims of sexual assaults.”
The colleges and representatives from Colleges Ontario (the advocacy organization for the colleges) are now consulting with student leaders, government officials, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, OPSEU and others on the policy and protocol. The feedback will be incorporated into the materials as they are finalized for the end of March. The comprehensive materials were developed by a task force that included senior college leaders, a student representative and legal experts, a group which included Sheridan’s Dean of Students, Maria Lucido Bezely.
Building on existing policies and practices, the new materials include recommendations for promoting greater awareness at colleges and establishing a clear protocol for responding to cases of sexual assault and violence. The materials also include information about protecting people’s privacy and the steps that should be taken if someone witnesses a sexual assault or has learned about a sexual assault.
“Sheridan is already doing many things well,” said Lucido Bezely. “We have an established process for reporting incidents, working with our own security team and our local police forces. We assist victims by creating safe plans and arranging additional supports such as counselling. Our Student Code of Conduct explicitly states that sexual assault and sexual violence are unacceptable. Our related procedures define sexual assault and outline the responsibilities of those within Sheridan to support our students. By adopting this new policy, we hope to send an even stronger message to any potential victims of sexual assault or sexual violence that they can report crimes in a welcoming environment.”
An internal steering group at Sheridan is now working with Student Services staff, Student Union and other members of the campus community to obtain feedback on the proposed policy. Over the next six months, the group will also deliver a number of initiatives to engage students, raise awareness of gender diversity and equality issues, and teach the language of consent in order to help eradicate all forms of harassment and discrimination.
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