Support at UWindsor for new sexual violence and harassment policies

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There's support at the University of Windsor for a move to update to sexual violence and harassment policies at colleges and universities across Ontario.

Anne Rudzinski, the Sexual Violence Education Specialist at the University of Windsor Office of Sexual Violence, Prevention, Resistance and Support believes it will add a level of safety and confidence for students.

"If they've been engaging in alcohol or drug use, they won't get in trouble for that and they won't be asked about their previous sexual history in a complaints process."

The province has announced the measures Thursday, saying that the policies must ensure students who report sexual violence will not be disciplined for breaking a school's rules related to drug and alcohol use at the time an alleged incident occurred.

The policies also need to ensure students will not be asked "irrelevant questions" by school staff or investigators, such as inquiries related to their past sexual history or sexual expression.

Rudzinski says she hopes the new policies will give the university a stronger basis to talk to students.

"I'm hoping it means that students will feel more comfortable to reach out to our office whether or not they want to file a complaint just knowing that those are things they will not get in trouble for or be asked about," she said.

Rudzinski says in their office they've already been operating under similar practices but feels this adds another layer to have it in the policy to be an official part of what they're doing.

"Typically, we don't ask students to share any information that they don't want to share," she continued. "We don't ask invasive questions when they reach out for support and we've been trying to act in ways where students don't have to worry about getting in trouble for alcohol and drug use."

The province says colleges and universities will need to review their sexual violence policies and amend them by March 31, 2022.