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U of T releases guiding principles for sexual violence education and prevention

The University of Toronto has released its guiding principles for sexual violence education and prevention – and is taking steps to implement them. 

Read Guiding Principles for Sexual Violence Education and Prevention Initiatives

The principles were developed by an expert panel chaired by Professor Gretchen Kerr, vice-dean, academic in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education. 

“We’re grateful to all the students, staff and faculty across the three campuses who took the time to provide insights and feedback to the panel,” Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr said. “This is the result of many hours of hard work and extensive consultation.”

As part of the university’s action plan to prevent and respond to sexual violence, the panel was asked to provide principles for the development of evidence-based training and education and to provide advice and guidance on updating the content and delivery of existing programs. The principles are the results of both research and consultation, Kerr said.

“We’re taking a collective and purposeful approach to shifting the culture on campuses around sexual violence,” Kerr said. “This includes recommending educational initiatives for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff members.”

Terry McQuaid, U of T's executive director, personal safety, high risk, sexual violence prevention and support, said the University has reviewed the guiding principles and will be forming an implementation group as a next step. 

“The implementation group will be looking at curriculum development, research and modes of delivery in the key areas identified by the expert panel,” McQuaid said. “This group will develop a timeline for the overall implementation of the guiding principles for the University.”

The guiding principles focus on four key areas:

  • Curriculum of sexual violence education and prevention initiatives, providing all members of the University community with foundational education on the contents of the University of Toronto’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Advanced levels of education will be provided for students as well as identified staff and faculty groups with student- or employee-facing responsibilities. The curriculum content will be derived from theory and supported by evidence.
  • Development of sexual violence education and prevention initiatives, to be informed by tri-campus consultation with key stakeholders. The education and prevention initiatives will reflect the ways in which intersectionality, inequities, power, and biases affect the occurrence, reporting, and disclosure of sexual violence.
  • Delivery of sexual violence education and prevention initiatives, derived from theory and supported by evidence. This includes training for facilitators to deliver education and prevention initiatives, and providing education to all students at different points throughout the course of their programmes to create a continuum of education. Faculty and staff will also receive training at regular intervals across all three campuses.
  • Evaluation and revision of sexual violence education and prevention initiatives, ensuring that after the curriculum and education and prevention initiatives have been implemented, they will be rigorously and systematically monitored, assessed, evaluated, researched, and revised accordingly.

“My research is in the area of sexual violence and it’s a pervasive issue not only on campus but in the broader society,” said Kate Stewart, a graduate student at U of T’s Rehabilitation Sciences Institute and a member of the panel.

“These guiding principles demonstrate that U of T recognizes the importance of addressing sexual violence and prevention and is committed to supporting a cultural shift around sexual violence at the university.” 

With a secondary mandate for education and prevention, the Tri-Campus Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre is directly affected by the guiding principles, McQuaid said. On each campus, key administrators and divisional representatives will assist with local implementation.

Read more about the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre at U of T Scarborough

Read about the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre at U of T Misissauga

“We will be working with the Centre’s staff to roll out next steps and collaborate on training measures,” said McQuaid. “We’ve already received a number of requests for training from student, staff and faculty groups. 

“It’s great to see members of the university community being proactive on such an important issue.”

  • The Tri-Campus Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and by phone (416-978-2266):
  • St. George campus – Room 606, Claude T. Bissell Building, 140 St. George Street, moving to 702 Spadina Ave. on July 11, 2017
  • UTM – 3094G, Davis Building
  • UTSC – Room 141, Environmental Science & Chemistry Building

You can also call Campus Police to make a report at 416-978-2222 (St. George & Scarborough Campus) or 905-569-4333 (UTM).

After hours support is available at Women's College Hospital SAAC (416-323-6040), Scarborough Grace Sexual Assault Care Centre (416-495-2400), and Trillium Hospital Sexual Assault Care Centre (905-848-7100).