Canada and United States: campus sexual assault law & policy comparative analysis.

AuthorLopes-Baker, Aliza

TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Canada Law & Policy A. Federal Canadian Campus Sexual Assault Legislation B. Provincial Canadian Campus Sexual Assault Legislation 1. Bill 132: Requirements for On Campus Policies 2. Bill 132: Student Input and Review C. Consent on Campus: Western University II. United States Law & Policy A. Federal United States Campus Sexual Assault Legislation B. State-Based Campus Sexual Assault Legislation C. Case Western Reserve University Sexual Assault Policy III. Comparative Aspects I. CANADA LAW & POLICY

  1. Federal Canadian Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

    The Canadian federal government creates the offense of sexual assault in the Criminal Code. (1) However, there is no federal legislation in Canada that deals directly with the issue of combating sexual assault on university campuses. This is because legislation regarding post-secondary education in Canada is under the jurisdiction of the provinces. (2) Therefore, this issue is generally dealt with at the provincial level and through the policies of the universities themselves. Parts of the federal government, such as the Minister of Status of Women, work closely to support the provinces on this issue. (3) However, because post-secondary education is a matter of provincial jurisdiction, there is no uniform national strategy to deal with campus sexual assault.

  2. Provincial Canadian Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

    On March 8th, 2016, the Ontario Provincial Government launched Bill 132: The Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan. (4) A portion of Bill 132 is devoted to reducing sexual assault and violence on college and university campuses across the province of Ontario. Bill 132 requires every college or university that receives ongoing funding from the government to formulate a stand-alone sexual assault policy by January 2017.

    1. Bill 132: Requirements for On Campus Policies

      Bill 132 imposes a series of requirements for newly developed policies by colleges and universities. Campus policies must identify the processes to be followed by administration when responding to, and addressing claims of, sexual assault or violence involving enrolled students. (5) Secondly, the Bill requires annual reporting from each college or university on a series of factors relating to sexual assault and violence on campus. These include, but are not limited to, any programs or initiatives established on campus to assist in either the promotion, awareness, or support of victims, and reporting the number of incidents and claims of sexual violence on campus with additional information of each incident provided. (6)

    2. Bill 132: Student Input and Review

      Bill 132 demonstrates an effort by the Ontario Provincial government to include student input when developing those policies that seek to regulate, investigate, and punish instances of sexual assault and violence on Ontario campuses. The Bill requires that student input be considered in processes of development, amendment, and reviewing of implemented policies. (7) Furthermore, the time frame for a review of such policies is regulated by the Bill, and is set at once every three years. (8)

  3. Consent on Campus: Western University

    Universities in Canada, even before Bill 132, implemented policies to avoid sexual assault and harassment on campus. Western University, located in London, Ontario, Canada, has a comprehensive structure which outlaws sexual violence on campus. The issue is regulated by an explicit, stand-alone document called "Western University's Policy on Sexual Violence (1.52)." (9) It includes procedures for responding and reporting sexual violence, the university code of conduct, and a non-discrimination and harassment declaration.

    Western University's policy includes a broad interpretation of sexual violence and is defined as any violence which is conducted by sexual means or by targeting sexuality. (10) The policy also stresses the importance of consent, and lack thereof, in instances of sexual violence.

    The most impressive part of Western's sexual violence policy are the procedural mechanisms in place to support victims of sexual violence. Western's policy lists support services, resources, and accommodation sources which a victim of sexual violence on campus can receive. (11) On-Campus support services include the Sexual Violence Prevention Education Coordinator and the Equity and Human Rights Services group. (12) There is also a distinction between disclosing an incident on campus and initiating a formal reporting process. (13) This distinction can promote disclosure since many victims of sexual violence are afraid of escalating the issue to protect personal or private interests.

    Prevention is also emphasized in Western's policy. Education on consent and sexual violence is initiated during Orientation Week events and is supported by awareness programs throughout the school year. Additionally, a Sexual Violence Prevention Education Committee was created to organize training initiatives, response protocols, and awareness campaigns. (14) The group is comprised mainly of students from the university, which ensures that insights from the student body will inform future policy decisions on sexual violence.

    Western has a robust structure which prevents and supports sexual violence on campus. However, formal reporting by the university could be improved. For example, in 2015 Western University reported just nine cases of sexual assault among a total student body numbering 28,864. (15) This raises speculation about the surprisingly low number. The total could point to the success of programs and education on campus, or alternatively, could be explained by sexual assault victims' reluctance to report incidents. Regardless of the reason, there is still more work that can be done to ensure instances of sexual violence are properly addressed and reported.


  4. Federal United States Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

    In the United States, campus sexual assault is addressed at the federal level by federal criminal sexual assault legislation, Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965, and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 amendment to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). (16) These measures both establish criminal liability of perpetrators and mandate on-campus sexual assault response and reporting structures.

    United States federal legislation provides a basis for a parallel response to sexual assault charges on college campuses throughout the United States. A survivor of campus sexual assault who wishes to bring charges against their attacker may choose to bring criminal charges under...

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