Authorization and Approval
Responsibility: Vice-Provost, Teaching, Learning and Student Experience
Authorization: Board of Governors
Approval Date: Dec 14, 2015
To provide all members of the University of Saskatchewan community (defined under “Scope of this policy” below) with a healthy, positive, and safe learning, living, social, recreational, and working environment free of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
This policy and its corresponding procedures provide a framework and firm commitment to prevention, education, awareness, and to fostering engagement from the university community to enable its members to recognize and to help prevent sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus.
The University of Saskatchewan is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and positive environment in which any form of sexual assault and sexual misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Definitions and relevant terms are included in Appendix A.
In this policy, the wording “person who has been victimized” is used to describe an individual who has been sexually assaulted or subjected to other forms of sexual misconduct contained within this policy document. It is recognized that there are other words used to describe an individual in these circumstances, including the short-forms of ‘victim’, ‘survivor’, ‘target’, and sometimes ‘complainant’.
Scope of this policy
This policy applies to all members of the university community including individuals employed directly or indirectly at the university, students, volunteers, and visitors of any kind. This policy applies to risks, threats and incidents of sexual assault or sexual misconduct that occur on university premises and other work, study, social, recreational and living sites under the university’s control or during the course of any university sponsored event or activity. This policy also applies to conduct that does not occur on university premises but that has an identifiable and substantial link to the university, or that affects the university working, learning or living environment. The policy applies to virtual environments such as any form of electronic or social media.
It is recognized that the university has other policies in place that may relate to sexual assault and sexual misconduct, such as the University of Saskatchewan Violence Prevention Policy, University of Saskatchewan Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy, and the Standard of Student Conduct in Non-Academic Matters. This policy is intended to complement and should be used and read in conjunction with other such policies and corresponding procedures. A formal complaint under any other university policy or collective agreement may trigger this policy.
This policy does not prevent the university from proceeding with any other additional process under separate, applicable university policies, collective agreements or prevailing laws, and is not intended to discourage or prevent someone from pursuing a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and/or Occupational Health and Safety. This policy does not stop individuals from seeking recourse through criminal or civil proceedings or via any other legal avenues available.
The University of Saskatchewan, through this policy, strives to ensure the safety of all members of the university community and is committed to the well-being of all persons using or visiting its premises. Through this policy, the University of Saskatchewan strives to create a safe and respectful space for working, studying, or living within its community.
Any actions of sexual assault or sexual misconduct violate the university’s institutional values and the right of all individuals to be treated with dignity and respect. The University of Saskatchewan will not condone or tolerate any form of sexual assault or sexual misconduct.
This policy conveys the university’s commitment to:
- raising awareness about sexual assault and sexual misconduct and increasing understanding of the impact of these actions;
- fostering a culture conducive to preventing sexual assault and sexual misconduct by engaging in prevention education and activities;
- minimizing the risk of sexual assault and sexual misconduct;
- providing appropriate education and training to university members about response to disclosures of sexual assault and sexual misconduct;
- ensuring that reporting processes are readily available and easy to follow;
- facilitating prompt action to assist individuals when an incident of sexual assault or sexual misconduct has occurred;
- ensuring coordination and communication among the various people and units who are involved in the response to sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
When sexual assault or sexual misconduct is reported to the university in accordance with this policy and its associated procedures, the University of Saskatchewan will respond promptly, with the aim of:
- supporting the individuals involved;
- assessing the safety of the individuals involved and the safety of any of the campuses that are involved;
- engaging the appropriate response mechanisms;
- providing information so that the individual who has been victimized is aware of options through which to pursue recourse.
The university affirms its commitment to provide an environment where anyone who has been affected by sexual assault or sexual misconduct feels supported and is treated with compassion. Individuals will be listened to when they disclose information about sexual assault or sexual misconduct that they have experienced or witnessed.
All reported incidents of sexual assault or sexual misconduct will be investigated to the best of the administration’s ability and in a manner that ensures due process for all parties involved, in accordance with applicable policies and standards. The university also affirms its obligation to ensure that those who commit acts of sexual assault or sexual misconduct are held accountable.
The university will protect the confidentiality of individuals and events under investigation to the extent possible, except where disclosure is required by law. The details and particulars of any case reported or under investigation will not be disclosed or discussed with any individuals or parties other than those deemed necessary for investigation or adjudication purposes, or as required by law.
Confidentiality cannot be assured in the following circumstances:
- when an individual is at imminent risk of self-harm;
- when an individual is at imminent risk of harming another; and/or
- when there are reasonable grounds to believe that others in the university or wider community may be at risk of harm.
In such circumstances, information would only be shared with necessary services to prevent harm.
Where the university becomes aware of an allegation of sexual assault or sexual misconduct by a member of the university community against another member of the university community, the university may also have an obligation to take steps to ensure that the matter is dealt with in order to comply with the university’s legal obligation and/or its policies to investigate such allegations. In such cases, certain university administrators will be informed about the reported incident on a “need to know” and confidential basis, but not necessarily of the identities of the persons involved.
All members of the university community share the responsibility for creating, ensuring, and promoting a safe environment and are expected to conduct themselves in an appropriate, respectful, and responsible manner. All members of the university community carry a responsibility to come forward and report information about incidents of sexual assault or sexual misconduct to university authorities where possible and in a manner consistent with the procedures set out by the university.
Further details regarding the responsibilities of the university, employees, students, and visitors can be found in the companion procedures document.
This policy shall be read in conjunction with its corresponding procedures that can be found here.
Following procedural fairness, the university may take action against anyone whose activities are in violation of the law or of this policy. The actions taken may include, but are not limited to:
- disciplinary or administrative action for students as addressed under The University of Saskatchewan Act, 1995, and The Standard of Student Conduct in Non-Academic Matters and Regulations and Procedures for Resolution of Complaints and Appeals;
- disciplinary action for employees in accordance with The University of Saskatchewan Act, 1995 [link above], The Saskatchewan Employment Act , and the respective collective agreement where applicable; and/or
- legal action that could result in criminal or civil proceedings.
The university may also take action against: (1) those who act in a retaliatory manner (e.g., attempting to punish or seek revenge) against anyone who reports an incident and, (2) those who file intentionally false complaints.
Defining Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct
Sexual assault: Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual act done by one or more persons to another that violates the sexual integrity of the person who has been victimized and involves a range of behaviours from any unwanted touching to penetration. Sexual assault is characterized by a broad range of behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, or control towards a person, which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened, or that is carried out in circumstances in which the person has not freely agreed, consented to, or is incapable of consenting to. In addition, a perpetrator may use alcohol and/or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) to control, overpower or subdue a person for the purposes of sexual assault. Sexual assault refers to sexual contact that is forced, manipulated, or coerced by a partner, friend, acquaintance or stranger.
Sexual misconduct: A broad term that describes any misconduct of a sexual nature, physical or psychological, carried out through sexual means. This misconduct takes different forms including, but not limited to sexual assault, coercion, stalking, and sexual harassment.
The University of Saskatchewan recognizes that sexual assault or sexual misconduct can occur between individuals regardless of sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity or family or marital status as articulated in The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. It also recognizes that individuals who have experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct may experience emotional, academic, and/or other difficulties.
Other Relevant Terms
Sexual harassment: Any comment or conduct of a sexual nature that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome is considered sexual harassment. It includes but is not limited to: (i) sexual solicitations, advances, remarks, suggestive comments and gestures, (ii) the inappropriate display of sexually suggestive pictures, posters, objects or graffiti, (iii) sexual conduct that interferes with an individual’s dignity or privacy such as voyeurism and exhibitionism.
Consent: Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question.
It is the responsibility of the person initiating or engaging in a sexual activity to obtain clear and affirmative responses at all stages of sexual engagement.
No consent is obtained or implied, where:
a) the agreement is expressed by the words or conduct of a person other than the specific individuals who are involved in the sexual activity;
b) an individual is incapable of consenting to the activity;
c) an individual induces another individual to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
d) an individual expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the sexual activity; or
e) an individual, having consented to engage in sexual activity, expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to continue to engage in the activity.
Consent requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. This means that there must be an understandable exchange of affirmative words which indicates a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. The fact that consent was given in the past to a sexual or dating relationship does not mean that consent is deemed to exist for all future sexual activity.
It is also imperative to understand the following:
Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent and a person in a state of diminished judgment or capacity cannot consent. A person must be sober in order to give consent. In addition,
- a person is incapable of giving consent if they are asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate.
- a person who has been threatened or coerced (i.e., is not agreeing voluntarily) into engaging in the sexual activity is not consenting to it.
- a person who is drugged is unable to consent.
- a person may be unable to give consent if they have a mental disability.
Age of consent for sexual activity: The age at which a person can legally consent to sexual activity. In Canada, children under 12 can never legally consent to sexual acts. Sixteen is the legal age of consent for sexual acts. There are variations on the age of consent for adolescents who are close in age between the ages of 12 and 16. Twelve and 13 year-olds can consent to have sex with other youth who are less than 2 years older than themselves. Youth who are 14 and 15 years old may consent to sexual involvement that is mutual with a person who is less than 5 years older. Youths 16 and 17 years old may legally consent to sexual acts with someone who is not in a position of trust or authority.
Coercion: In the context of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, coercion is unreasonable and persistent pressure for sexual activity. Coercion is the use of emotional manipulation, blackmail, threats to family or friends, or the promise of rewards or special treatment, to persuade someone to do something they do not wish to do, such as being sexual or performing particular sexual acts.
Stalking: Stalking involves behaviours that occur on more than one occasion, which collectively instil fear in the person who has been victimized or threaten a person’s safety or mental health. Stalking can also include threats of harm to the friends of the person who has been victimized and/or family. These behaviours include, but are not limited to non-consensual communications (face to face, phone, email, social media); threatening or obscene gestures; surveillance; sending unsolicited gifts; “creeping” via social media/cyber-stalking; and uttering threats.
If you have questions about this policy please contact:
Contact Person: Patti McDougall, Vice-provost teaching and learning