Colleges agree to create uniform campus sex assault policy

David Perreault, Sheridan's security operations coordinator, puts the finishing touches on one of the new emergency stations installed next to the forest bordering the college's Trafalgar Campus. (Chris Coutts / The Sheridan Sun)

David Perreault, Sheridan’s security special projects coordinator, puts the finishing touches on one of the new emergency stations installed next to the forest bordering the college’s Trafalgar Campus. (Chris Coutts / The Sheridan Sun)


Ontario college presidents have begun a review of how their institutions respond to sexual assaults on campus.

Twenty-four presidents from Ontario colleges met on Monday to try to figure out how to go about creating a uniform set of transparent and accessible policies for students affected by sexual assaults while attending their schools. Currently, none of the 24 public Ontario colleges have a special policy to deal with sexual assaults on campus

Sheridan president Jeff Zabudsky was in attendance, and found the hour-long meeting to be a “good, focused” discussion.

“The consensus has been that all 24 institutions are going to work collectively with Colleges Ontario to come up with a policy that we can all use, so that we’re dealing with the issue consistently across the system,” said Zabudsky.

“I think there was a recognition that while many of us already had policies and procedures in place, it was time to make sure that they were much more high profile and easily identified and recognizable,” he said.

Zabudsky used the example of having the college’s policies and procedures around sex assaults being much easier for students to find on the school’s website, rather than being buried in its extensive code of conduct.

The presidents ordered its representative body, Colleges Ontario, to research and develop an official policy for all of the 24 institutions. Zabudsky expects the process to take around three months.

A recent investigation by the Toronto Star determined that only four universities in Ontario have created a policy to deal with sexual violence on their campuses. Those schools are Brock University, Western University, Lakehead University and the University of Guelph.

Research from a 2008 North American study “Developing a University-Wide Institutional Response to Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence” published in the Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community suggests anywhere from 15 to 25 per cent of college and university-aged women will experience some form of sexual assault during their academic career.


Sheridan has a long history with sexual assaults occurring in and around the forest surrounding Trafalgar Campus, with the most recent taking place on Oct. 30 when an apparently intoxicated male assaulted a 21-year-old woman. A string of five sexual assaults between August 2013 and last February prompted Halton Police, Crime Stoppers of Halton, Sheridan’s president and Student Union president to hold a “town hall” meeting to answer questions and concerns from the Sheridan community.

Following up on pledges it made during the town hall meeting, Sheridan increased the visibility along the forest’s trails by thinning out the trees along pathways. The school has added more lighting along the higher-traffic trails, and installed security cameras near commonly used entrances to the forest. Emergency stations have also been installed in closer proximity to the trails. The college has increased its security presence in the forest as well, with the addition of more guards and all-terrain vehicles.

“We still need to make sure that everyone knows where to turn when an issue such as this arises, and where they can go for support and help, and what are the policies and procedures around it,” said Zabudsky. “We’re going to up our game, and make sure [our policies are] much more prominent.”

The college presidents next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26.