Recently a number of OCAD University students and community members have come forward with their experiences of sexual violence in the University. OCADFA stands in support of the OCAD Student Union’s call for Administration to actively and immediately support student survivors.
Under OCAD U’s Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence, the University’s obligations are to conduct a preliminary information-gathering to determine interim measures and assess risk to the University, and to take “measures to protect the University Community in situations where a risk is determined, including interim measures placed on the Respondent”.
In these situations, confidentiality is often raised as the reason why cases cannot be discussed publicly. However, our policy recognizes the Limits of Confidentiality : where an individual is at imminent risk of harming an identified individual and/or where members of the university community may be at risk of harm (4.3).
Sexual violence in our community is unfortunately a grim reality. Too many of our students are not provided an environment that adequately protects them from sexual violence. Immediately we ask Administration to make available educational and support resources and to direct necessary supports for sexual violence survivors, using an equity lens that recognizes Black, Indigenous and racialized community members are disproportionately impacted.
OCADFA urges the University Administration to be proactive about communicating back with the impacted students. We are asking for transparent communication with our members and a response that supports student survivors first. OCAD University has a duty to ensure our community members have access to a safe, healthy and secure learning environment.
Given the prevalence of sexual violence on campuses, OCAD U Administration needs to provide proactive guidance and supports for our members who are often the ones students go to with their experiences of sexual violence. Too many of our members are forced to respond to testimonies from student survivors without adequate training or information on available resources. And too often there is a gendered dimension to which faculty members carry the unfair burden of support.
OCADFA has a duty to ensure our members have a safe and secure work environment and will take necessary steps to responsibly inform our members of the current situation. We have consulted with our legal counsel and recognize the relevant confidentiality issues and will respect the necessary protocols that apply. When the safety of our students and community is at stake, we refuse to be silent.
Min Sook Lee