Sexual assault has been in the news lately — although we would argue that it’s a topic that should always be at the forefront of public discourse.
First, the presidents of Ontario’s 24 colleges agreed this month to a uniform sexual assault policy. This would replace the patchwork policies on sexual assault that exist across the college system into one code that will apply to every student. In some cases, it will take its place where policies don’t even exist. While we won’t comment on the shamefulness of the fact that some schools hadn’t yet acted on this problem, at least something is being done.
Then, last Monday, the CBC released a study of 87 colleges and universities and their rates of reported sexual assault. Humber ranked fairly high on the list; 20th out of 87 institutions still left something to be desired.
But the experts contacted by the CBC found the number of reported sexual assaults perplexingly low, with some institutions reporting no instances of assault. Although it could theoretically be the case that there were no assaults at these schools, the experts found it highly doubtful.
Whether or not one agrees with the findings in the CBC report, we would urge every institution in the country to ensure that sexual assault does not go unreported and victims feel they can report in a safe environment, with consequences for the alleged assaulters if found guilty.
We also applaud Ontario’s colleges for their action on this matter, but hope that their actions will not be empty platitudes and have serious consequences to back them up.
We look forward to Humber (and all colleges) having a robust policy against sexual assault and hope that it will be strongly enforced.
We owe it to the victims — and potential victims.