News / Toronto

Mixed marks for Toronto universities in new sexual violence policy scorecard

Ryerson gets an A-. U of T gets a C.

Jade Cooligan Pang, Kelsey Gilchrist, and Caitlin Salvino are the chairs of Our Turn.

Kieran Delamont / Metro

Jade Cooligan Pang, Kelsey Gilchrist, and Caitlin Salvino are the chairs of Our Turn.

Canadian universities have been graded on their sexual violence policies and Toronto schools have mixed results.

Student-led advocacy group Our Turn released a new action plan to end campus sexual violence on campus Wednesday, looking at best practices from 14 post-secondary institutions across the country and which policies need improvement.

Ryerson University was handed an A-, at the top of the pack, while the University of Toronto got a more mediocre C.

Carelton student Jade Cooligan Pang said the process started as a fight to get a good sexual violence policy in place at that school.

"Sexual violence on campuses is very unique in that students we live there, we work there, we go to school there. It's not just one part of our life. It's our whole life," she told Metro.

The group ranked schools on a list of detailed criteria including factors like whether policies have protection from retaliation built in, and cover staff and faculty as well as students.

Ryerson scored points for mentioning rape culture in its policy, while U of T was docked for not.

"Unfortunately, it's a very real reality on campus whether you want to address it or not," said Cooligan Pang, adding students often encounter it during the first eight weeks of classes, when many sexual assaults happen.

Ryerson's manager of sexual violence education and support Farrah Khan credited the university's high mark to the fact that the administration started on a standalone sexual violence policy before it became Ontario law and spent years listening to students and survivors on their experiences.

"We can always do better," she said adding she was interested to see mention of things like confidentiality agreements in the scorecard, which have been in the headlines recently surrounding alleged serial sexual assaulter and harasser Harvey Weinstein.

U of T’s sexual violence point person Terry McQuaid, said she hasn't had time to go through the report in depth but the university's policy was developed through extensive consultations with students and the administration is "open to feedback."

Cooligan Pang stressed it's not about naming and shaming.

"We hope that people don't view these scores as criticisms, but rather as a guideline and a way to move forward," she said.

"To make better, safer, campuses for everybody."

How Canadian universities scored:

Ryerson: A- (81 per cent)

UBC: B+ (78 per cent)

U of T: C (66 per cent)

McGill: C- (61 per cent)

Dalhouse: D+ (57 per cent)

Concordia: D- (52 per cent)

More on