Taking Courageous Action Together: Recommendations For PSIs To Address GBV On Campus (Part 2)

Written by: Carina Gabriele with CJ Rowe

Courage to Act: Developing a National draft Framework to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions in Canada was released one year ago.

Informed by experienced survivors, student researchers, frontline workers and policy experts, it provided a blueprint for a national Framework and included innovative ideas, promising practices and calls to action for post-secondary institutions (PSIs) to address gender-based violence (GBV) on campus. The report highlighted the good work currently being done on campuses across Canada, alongside a number of key recommendations (#CourageousActions) to support PSIs in improving practices, policies and procedures around GBV and work towards prevention.

This two-part series expands on these key recommendations, offering a closer look at the incredible work happening at PSIs across the country to address and prevent GBV on campus. It takes great courage to act. We are excited and honoured to learn and work alongside you.

This work is ongoing, and as advocates and communities across the country continue to do good work in this field, more examples of ground-breaking resources are being created every day. If you have a resource or PSI example you would like to be added to this list, please send it to

Key Recommendations (Courage to Act Report, 2019, pp. 21)

7. Create a policy creation and review process.

As defined by Langara College, a policy is a guiding principle or standard used to set direction and conduct. A policy creation process ensures there is a clear, articulated, transparent plan for creating policy, so everyone can get involved. A review process ensures the information in the policy is updated adequately and frequently and has consistent agreement and buy-in from the community. This two-step process requires each PSI to engage with the community, student body, staff, faculty, and stakeholders. Community engagement means having a policy creation and review process that reflects the needs of those in your community. We should strive to have processes that are clear and transparent for everyone. 

  • After the first year of Carleton University’s Sexual Violence Policy, the PSI held a widespread and comprehensive policy review process with key stakeholders. Carleton University has posted its revised sexual violence policy, its review process, review feedback, work plan, and timeline on its website. You can find review feedback from their consultation process here.

  • Sault College developed a document outlining their sexual assault and violence policy creation and review process, which includes both the policy creation outline and stakeholders who should be involved in the policy review process.

  • Simon Fraser University created a Sexual Violence Prevention Education and Support policy in 2017 and held a comprehensive policy review process with community stakeholders. Find a compiled summary of feedback and actions the institution will take here.

  • Western University has initiated a review of its sexual violence policy, last updated in 2017. Western compiled data from over 400 students, staff, and faculty after conducting a feedback survey and focus groups. Find their updated policy, survey findings, and review process and timeline here.

  • While this resource is not specific to gender-based violence, this resource from Camosun College offers a step-by-step policy creation process, and reasons committing to consultation and review is necessary for the policy creation process.

8. Ensure that intersecting PSI policies are adapted to reflect the overarching gender-based violence plan.

Applying a gender-based violence lens to any campus policy recognizes that gender-based violence does not exist in a vacuum, and all post-secondary institution policies should reflect that. In having a comprehensive gender-based violence plan, each policy should be taking into consideration the diverse ways that gender-based violence impacts the campus community. 

  • Media Releases and Campus-Wide Safety Alerts: Campus Sexual Violence: Guidelines for a Comprehensive Response, produced by Ending Violence Association of British Columbia has a section with advice on how to craft media releases and campus-wide safety alerts with a gender-based violence lens.

  • The federal government created a Gender-Based Analysis (GBA+) framework and course to provide a foundation for an organization’s sustainable and systematic use of GBA+. It can be adapted to any organization’s structure and needs. This resource creates a common baseline understanding of appropriate language, and how to apply a gender-conscious lens.

  • In addition to multiple overlapping policies within a PSI, there are also policies that interact and overlap with provincial and territorial legislation, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act. These should also be reviewed bi-annually by senior administrators to see how they will interact with their GBV policy to avoid duplication and ensure alignment.

  • As noted in the Courage to Act report (2019), we must pay attention to where PSIs’ GBV policies intersect and overlap with other policies and agreements that affect campus community members. Often, protocols are embedded in other policies, such as a student code of conduct or in collective agreements. For example, the University of Toronto’s Code of Conduct includes information about the campus sexual violence policy and explains that for students, this policy intersects with the Code of Student Conduct at the point of a Hearing, or the imposition of interim measures under s 55 of the policy, and is an offence under B.1.(a).

  • Included within their Residence and Community Standards, Queens University includes an entire section about sexual violence, how their community addresses and prevents GBV, and where students can seek support and learn more about Residence and Housing’s sexual violence policy.

  • Within Red Deer College’s policy about Research Involving Humans, the policy includes a section about related policies and links readers to their campus sexual violence policy.

9. Implement an intersectional equity approach to addressing and preventing gender-based violence

An intersectional equity approach means caring for everyone’s needs on campus. PSIs have bright, diverse campus communities that require responses that take into consideration the intricate and interconnected needs. There cannot be a “one-size” fits all approach. Addressing and preventing gender-based violence must take into consideration the legacy of settler colonialism and state violence against Indigenous people, anti-black racism and slavery, misogyny, ableism, xenophobia, and all other violence that intersects and compounds the impacts of gender-based violence. Neglecting to implement an intersectional equity approach will never adequately address and prevent gender-based violence on campuses. 

Some institutions have implemented an intersectional equity approach to addressing and preventing gender-based violence by directly acknowledging in their sexual violence policies the complicated and intricate ways sexual and gender-based violence impacts campus community members based on their intersectional identities. Examples of institutions include:

  • Simon Fraser University’s campus sexual violence policy reflects on the diversity of the University Community and specifically acknowledges how each person will be affected differently by Sexual Violence based on the intersection of multiple identities.

    • Ryerson University’s sexual violence policy states, “Sexual violence impacts people of all genders. The university recognizes that sexual violence is overwhelmingly committed against women, and in particular women who experience the intersection of multiple identities such as but not limited to Indigenous women, racialized women, black women, trans women and women with disabilities. Additionally, the university recognizes that those whose gender identity and gender expression does not conform to historical gender norms are also at increased risk of sexual violence.”

    • The University of Alberta’s sexual violence policy defines sexual violence by stating “[it] can affect individuals of all gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations, as well as those from all ages, abilities, racial, cultural and economic backgrounds.”

    • Dalhousie University defines intersectionality within their sexual violence policy, and states, “Intersectional refers to an approach that acknowledges the integrative nature of social identities and social oppressions, including various forms of violence. An intersectional approach to Sexualized Violence considers the fact that the impact of Sexualized Violence can overlap and interact with experiences of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, classism and ableism.”

    • Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW), is a community rape crisis centre in Vancouver, which provides specific services to Indigenous community members, such as Indigenous counselling for Indigenous survivors of sexual assault, and MMIWG2S Family Counselling for self-identified family members of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. While WAVAW is not a PSI resource, it serves as a leading example of the ways that policies and programs can offer intersectional gender-based violence support for community members.

10. Establish centralized data collection, reporting, and public disclosure of statistics.

Provinces and Territories across Canada have varying mandates for PSI data collection processes. Sexual assault programs and policies cannot be properly designed, implemented, and evaluated without adequate data (Gomme & Micucci, 1997). Despite what mandates or laws exist in your province or territory, it is critical that PSIs take the responsibility upon themselves to establish centralized data collection, reporting and public disclosure of statistics. This will ensure you’re able to keep track of the impact your policies and prevention initiatives have on campus, and keep a pulse for how the campus community is doing This task requires PSIs to prioritize discretion, compassion, confidentiality, and transparency. 

  • In 2018, Yukon College (now Yukon University) integrated mandatory data collection within their updated sexual violence policy to collect annual statistics about incidents of sexualized violence on campus.

  • Simon Fraser University’s Sexual Violence Support and Prevention Office (SVSPO) is the central hub for sexual violence support on campus, intakes all reports associated with the sexual violence policy, and is the keeper of all campus sexual violence statistics. The SVSPO then develops a public report each year based on the data collected, which is available on their website:

  • On page nine of Enhancing Care and Advocacy for Sexual Assault Survivors on Canadian Campuses (2016) University of Saskatchewan researchers Elizabeth Quinlan, Allyson Clarke and Natasha Miller state, “National standards for data collection and reporting of campus sexual violence are needed” and continue by outlining suggestions for how to collect data on campuses, the importance of prioritizing survivor experiences, and the need to engage “student union representatives… in the assessment process so that the experiences and perspectives of students are fully considered.”

  • In August 2020, students in British Columbia released a report, Data Collection, Reporting, and Institutional Accountability: A student submission on standards for data collection and reporting of campus sexualized violence policy utilization and implementation. The report breaks down comprehensive recommendations between the provincial government, and post-secondary institutions.

  • In 2015, CBC News contacted 87 universities and colleges across Canada to request the number of sexual assaults reported on each campus to the institution between 2009 and 2013. The data they acquired can be found here

  • In 2017, Alberta’s post-secondary institutions considered conducting a provincewide survey to better understand the extent of student sexual assaults and sexual violence. In 2018, Ontario’s provincial government issued the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey to gather information about how student respondents perceive, understand and respond to sexual violence.

11. Create a long-term Gender Equity Strategic Plan for the PSI

Preventing and addressing gender-based violence cannot be an effort that exists within a vacuum- it requires a strategy and efforts taken by all administrators staff and faculty on campus. A long term strategy ensures you can keep track of progress and constantly be working towards a goal. Gender Equity strategies contain more than just a focus on gender-based violence, which ensures that efforts to improve safety and wellbeing on campus are intentionally being fostered, in a variety of ways and meet a variety of needs  

  • The Government of Canada has a free online course on Gender-Based Analysis Plus that community members can take. The course is designed as a basic introduction to GBA+ where participants learn key concepts and how to apply some processes in their own work. (Status of Women Canada, 2018)

  • With the release of the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey (2019) results, each PSI in Ontario is mandated to integrate a number of established initiatives into their response and prevention strategies. These include:

    • Requiring every publicly-assisted college and university to report annually to its board of governors on a number of measures related to the experiences of and support for students who have experienced sexual violence; and

    • Requiring every publicly-assisted college and university in Ontario to have a task force devoted to tackling sexual violence on campus. The task force would include diverse student representatives and be required to report its findings to both their respective Board of Governors as well as to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

12. Enact oversight mechanisms with Indigenous, provincial, territorial, and/or federal governments.

Our Indigenous, provincial, territorial and/or federal governments have the platform and power to ensure PSIs across the country are held accountable and maintain strict standards for preventing and addressing GBV on campus. Oversight mechanisms provide the incentive for PSIs to continue doing this work well.   

  • The Ontario Undergraduate Student Association (OUSA) penned a policy paper titled Sexual Violence Prevention And Response (2016) that outlines the legislative and regulatory steps that the Ontario government could implement to ensure that PSIs are held accountable to the policies they have implemented on their campuses.

  • While not specific to gender-based violence, the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) implementing the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan in 2017 is an example of an oversight mechanism in the Canadian PSI context.


Suggested Citation: Gabriele, Carina., Rowe, CJ. (2020, September). Taking Courageous Action Together: Recommendations for PSIs to Address GBV on Campus Part 2. Courage to Act.


Carina Gabriele

Carina Gabriele (she/her) graduated with an Honours BA in Women’s Studies and a Major in English Language and Literature from Western University in 2018. While attending Western, Carina served in a number of elected leadership positions and worked on multiple gender-equity projects in the London community. In her fourth year, Carina was elected as an Executive Officer of Western’s student union. In this full-time position, Carina created Western’s first federal “Women in House” program, created a free campus menstrual equity pilot program, and advocated against campus gender-based violence. Outside of her work with Courage to Act, Carina serves as a Young Director for Girls On Boards, and serves as a Board Member for OSTA-AECO and People for Education. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education in Education Policy at the University of Toronto.


Dr. CJ Rowe

For nearly twenty years, Dr. CJ Rowe (they/them) has worked with organizations, developing educational campaigns and research projects. Presently, CJ is Director of Simon Fraser University’s Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office supporting individuals impacted by sexual violence while developing prevention and intervention educational campaigns. CJ will be leading the creation of the Education toolkit for this project.

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