TORONTO – Ontario’s university faculty were troubled to learn the results of the Ontario Government’s Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey released today. It is deeply disturbing that over 63 per cent of university students surveyed disclosed an experience of sexual harassment and that sexual violence remains so pervasive on campus. These results point to the hard work still needed to create campuses and communities free of sexual harassment and violence.
“It’s deeply disturbing to see just how pervasive sexual harassment and violence is for students attending Ontario’s universities,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. “As faculty, and as members of the university community, we are committed to continuing to work with students and universities towards eliminating sexual violence on our campuses.”
University faculty are pleased to see the provincial government focusing on efforts to support universities and students, including increasing funding for the Women’s Campus Safety Grant. However, the money will do little to make up for the hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out of the university system earlier this year. Faculty will be looking for the government to demonstrate a commitment to postsecondary education and the vital support services universities provide by increasing investments in Ontario’s universities in the coming budget.
It is also important to acknowledge that it is campus students’ unions and campus media who have been leaders in pointing out the shortcomings in university, college, and government policy on sexual violence and sexual harassment campus. They have been at the forefront of the work to create better sexual violence prevention policies on campus. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the government made today’s announcement while continuing their attacks on the very student organizations that have been so instrumental in raising awareness and driving progress on these issues.
“The government should stop undermining the ability of students’ unions to support and advocate on behalf of their members through the Student Choice Initiative,” said Phillips. “Instead, this government should support students by investing in postsecondary education and ensuring that universities and students’ unions have the resources to support a campus free from sexual violence.”
Sexual violence is unacceptable. The results of this survey demonstrate the severity of the problem on university and college campuses and the need for substantial resources and strong students’ unions and campus media to effectively address these issues. Faculty are committed to this work and to partnering with students, staff, university administrators, and the provincial government to create safer campuses.
Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit www.ocufa.on.ca.
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