University of Windsor interim President Douglas Kneale is pictured in his office, Friday, December 7, 2018.
Dax Melmer / Windsor Star
Reports of sexual assaults and other sexual misconduct have increased at the University of Windsor since 2016 when the university opened its sexual misconduct response and prevention office.“The increase in numbers I think is a positive sign that students feel comfortable in coming forward to discuss these issues,” said interim university President Douglas Kneale this week.We’re de-stigmatizing, we’re putting our resources up front to have students take advantage of the resources and supports hereA report to the board of governors this week said the office managed 70 cases including 11 formal complaints that were investigated from May 2018 to April 2019.The reports of sexual misconduct by students, staff or faculty to the office include sexual assault, sexual harassment, childhood sexual abuse, violence from an intimate partner, stalking, and sexual exploitation such as non-consensual sharing of images or videos.The 70 cases in the last year is close to 2017/18 when the office managed 66 cases including 10 formal complaints. When the office started in 2016 it had 17 cases and one formal complaint.Of the 70 cases opened by the office in the last year, 57 of them were students who reported incidents “for the purpose of seeking emotional support and access to resources,” said the annual report on the university’s sexual misconduct policy.There were two cases filed as a formal written record but not investigated and 11 formal complaints that were investigated.People reported both historical and recent incidents and some people reported more than one incident. Most of the cases involved someone known by the survivor and most of the cases happened off campus, the report said.Kneale said the numbers show the university is making students aware of the services and support available, and more students are reporting incidents including disclosures of past sexual assaults.The office hired a sexual wellness and consent coordinator for 10 hours a week in the fall of 2018 to oversee public education events and that position will be increased to 24 hours a week in May.The university has held public education events, support events for survivors of sexual violence including students struggling academically, and workshops on sexual assault resistance called Flip the Script.“We’re de-stigmatizing, we’re putting our resources up front to have students take advantage of the resources and supports here.”A spokeswoman from the office was not available Thursday for an interview.The university’s Sexual Misconduct Response and Prevention Office broadly defines sexual misconduct as sexual harassment, sexual assault, the threat of sexual assault, criminal harassment such as stalking and cyber harassment, relationship violence, and gender-based misconduct. The office collaborates with the local sexual assault crisis centre.Related