July 22, 2019

Consent Culture

What is consent culture? A culture in which the prevailing narrative of sex is centered on mutual consent. It is a culture that does not force anyone into anything, respects bodily autonomy and is based on the belief that a person is always the best judge of their own wants and needs. Consent to any activity is ongoing, freely given, informed and enthusiastic.

On March 19th, 2019, the provincial government released preliminary findings from the Student Voices on Sexual Violence Survey, a survey that was administered by CCI Research Inc. on behalf of the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and publicly-assisted post-secondary institutions. The purpose of the survey was to collect data on perceptions and experiences of sexual violence at post-secondary institutions in Ontario. 

More than 20,000 U of T students responded to the survey, providing valuable insight into how sexual violence is affecting students. At U of T, 58.7% of respondents disclosed one or more incident of sexual harassment, which included discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, being touched in a way that made one feel uncomfortable, being continually asked for dates from someone after having said ‘no’, and being sent unwelcome content via text, email, or social media. 17% of U of T respondents disclosed one or more incidents of non-consensual sexual experience. The latter two findings only include experiences since the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic year.

APUS offers ongoing support and education to students regarding gender-based and/or sexual violence and harassment. This includes education, discussion, resources and materials on consent culture and support in accessing resources available on or off campus.

Recent Advocacy

APUS, alongside the UTGSU, UTMSU, SCSU and UTSU, organized and hosted 4 tri-campus consultations on the University of Toronto’s Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment in February and March 2019. These consultations were done with the recognition that students may be more comfortable sharing their opinions and experiences in a student-led space. These consultations were organized prior to the consultations that were hosted by the University in the Fall of 2019.

A Final Report was drafted and submitted to the Office of the Vice Provost Students, in order to provide feedback. A summary of all recommendations can be found on Pages 15 and 16.

If you are looking for educational support or resources, contact the APUS Academic Advocacy Coordinator: advocacy@apus.ca