Tri-Council can do its part to address Campus Sexual Harassment and Assault
Dear Minister Duncan;
We are writing to you to propose that the Tri-Council funding agency introduce similar policies and procedures as those recently announced by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the United States to address sexual harassment and sexual assault on college and university campuses.
As of mid-October, institutions to which NSF-award holders are affiliated are required to report findings of sexual harassment and sexual assault investigations involving researchers who hold NSF funds. The NSF will respond to reported findings by taking action to reduce, suspend, or terminate the funding of the award holders. Because award-holders are in positions of trust, these accountability mechanisms are intended to facilitate safe and productive environments for research, teaching, and learning. The policy recognizes that sexual violence on university campuses is not a student-on-student problem only, but involves faculty members, researchers, administrators, and staff. Further information on this new NSF policy can be found at: https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=296...
Research confirms that when survivors of sexual violence turn to their post-secondary institutions for accommodations and support, many are disappointed by the disbelief, blame, and stigmatization (Smith & Freyd, 2013)*. The sense of betrayal, often called the ‘second assault’, exacerbates the post-traumatic reactions to the initial assault.
Despite recent media attention to the problem of sexual violence on Canadian campuses, numerous task forces established at various universities, and recent legislation in a number of provinces requiring universities to create sexual violence policies, there is no evidence to suggest that these developments have resulted in a significant reduction in campus sexual violence or the ‘second assault’. However, now that an increasing number of Canadian universities have investigative processes for sexual harassment complaints and assaults, the results of these investigations are readily available for reporting to the Tri-Council.
To capitalize on the recent development of policies and investigative procedures at Canadian universities and in keeping with the priorities of the government, and your mandate in particular, we urge you to strengthen the support for fundamental research in Canada by implementing NSF-similar policies and procedures to ensure the safety and security of personnel supported by Tri-Council funds at Canadian research institutions.
* Smith, C., & Freyd, J. (2013). Dangerous safe havens: Institutional betrayal exacerbates sexual trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(1), 119–124.