Canada’s universities take the issue of sexual assault on campus seriously, and are working to ensure campuses are safe for all students.
But news reports that take aim at universities that have higher numbers of reported assaults are misleading and dangerous, says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
While some aspects of the reports by CBC today on campus sexual assault were put into context, the overall tone suggested that universities with high levels of reported assaults were in the wrong. But as CBC’s own details on its methodology point out, the results cannot be interpreted as a “scorecard,” and institutions differ in how they gather and report data.
Moreover, by inflating rates by 10,000 students, CBC overstates the incidence of sexual assault on campuses.
Issues surrounding sexual assault are a challenge not just for universities but for the broader Canadian society. Of particular concern is finding ways so that more survivors can be encouraged to come forward and report assaults – an area universities have been working to improve.
AUCC’s 97 members are deeply committed to providing students, faculty and staff with a safe, supportive and respectful environment in which to learn, work and interact with others.
They are equally deeply committed to evidence, fairness and due process.
Universities and their regional/provincial associations are at the forefront in society in developing information about sexual assault, strategies to make their communities safer, and resources to support students who have been the survivors of assaults. While we welcome conversations that provide greater understanding and information on sexual assault and safety on campus, AUCC urges that such reports, both in tone and content, be reported and understood with appropriate evidence and accuracy.
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Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.