WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY'S
GENDERED & SEXUAL VIOLENCE POLICY
Understanding how it affects you
You may have heard mixed things about the policy.
There are aspects that are wonderful and supportive to survivors, and aspects that are harmful.
Policies are tough to understand, so we are here to help!
Sexual violence? Gendered Violence? What's the difference?!
Unlike most other universities in Ontario (and additional provinces of Manitoba, and BC), other forms of gendered violence in addition to sexual violence are included under this policy. Sexual violence includes acts like sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation. Gendered violence includes all of these acts of sexual violence, plus, sexism, gender discrimination, gender harassment, biphobia, transphobia, homophobia and heterosexism and intimate partner violence.
If you have had an experience, or are currently experiencing, physical, sexual, emotional, economic or mental harm based on gender inequalities or a sexual act or threat without your consent, this policy applies to you.
What's the difference between a Disclosure, Report and Official Complaint?
A DISCLOSURE is when you tell someone (anyone!) about your experience. People who disclose may or may not want to take any further action or seek support.
A REPORT can be made with certain university staff (e.g. Special Constable Services) 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 that impact the broader community (for e.g. hate graffiti). Reports may be filed by the person who has experienced the harm, witnesses, or others who are aware of what happened.
An OFFICIAL COMPLAINT will likely prompt an investigation done by either the university or someone external who they hire. The Official Complaint process may result in various sanctions such as restrictions of services, behavioural contracts, suspension or expulsion. The person who the complaint is filed against will receive a copy of the complaint.
What's Laurier have to say about consent?
Laurier defines consent in a detailed, progressive way!! Laurier commits to promoting a culture of consent where:
• The absence of “no” is not consent
• Consent can be withdrawn at any time
• It’s the responsibility of the person who wants to initiate to make sure that they have consent from their partner(s)
• Consent to one sexual act is not consent to other and/or future sexual acts
• Consent is required regardless of relationship status or sexual history together
• Consent cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated by alcohol, drugs, or who is unconscious, asleep, or otherwise lacks the capacity to give consent
• Consent can never be obtained through threats, trickery, coercion, pressure or other forms of control or intimidation
• Consent may be compromised where individuals are in a position of power
What if my experience was off-campus or during the holidays/summer?
This policy applies 24/7, 365 days of the year, both on- and off-campus.
What if the person who harmed me is not a student?
If the person who harmed you is WLU staff or faculty, this student-focused policy still applies to you in respect to supports, but the process to file a complaint falls under a different policy: Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination Policy (6.1) with the Office of Dispute Resolution and Support (Contact Senior Advisor, Dispute Resolution and Support, Dawn McDermott, at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Also, if the person who harmed you is not affiliated with WLU at all, you can still access support services, both on- and off-campus.
Will this whole thing be kept confidential?
Laurier knows confidentiality is super important, but depending on the situation, sometimes information is shared. Laurier could tell other people in the University if they think it's necessary (e.g. to assess risks or coordinate support), but has promised to tell you who knows what. In some cases, people at Laurier will be obligated to tell others. For instance, if there is a risk of harm or it's a case of workplace violence. Laurier won't tell anyone outside of the University unless they're obligated to, such as if the law requires them to tell the police (usually this isn't the case). Whenever possible, Laurier will use a pseudonym (like your first initial) to describe you when sharing information within the University, rather than your name.
Can I appeal?
Both the complainant and the accused can appeal the results of an official complaint if a mistake was made during the official processes or if the imposed disciplinary sanction doesn't suit the offence or the harm that was caused.
What's the deal with cross-examination?
During an appeal, a survivor may need to be cross-examined (asked questions and challenged) by the person who harmed them, or the survivor may need to cross-examine the person who harmed them (it could go both ways). This could be extremely traumatic. Survivors may be able to have testimonial aids but regardless, this is a very problematic part of the policy.
Fortunately, this cross-examination is just during the appeal stage. At many other universities, it comes into play as soon as you file an Official Complaint. Why did Laurier include this harmful aspect? Laurier is mandated to be “fair” to all parties. One interpretation of being “fair” is to allow for the “evidence” (i.e. the survivor’s testimony/live experience) to be challenged in an oral hearing.
We don't agree with this interpretation of "fair" and we understand that cross-examination can re-traumatize survivors. We want you to know that cross-examination won't happen in all cases.
Know that we will be advocating for cross-examination to be taken out of ALL aspects of this policy in the future. We will work with our allies to make this happen.