Sexual Violence

As reflected in the President’s statement on sexual violence, the University of Guelph is committed to creating an open and transparent culture around preventing and addressing sexual and gendered violence and to fostering an environment that better protects the community against all forms of violence.

Upholding this commitment requires the University to integrate the principles of community safety and safe disclosure carefully and thoughtfully into all University planning and operations. Furthermore, the University must have clear and effective policies and procedures to inform and shape a positive campus culture.

Sexual Violence

The University’s Sexual Violence Policy sets out the principles that apply when allegations of sexual violence are brought forward in the University community. The goals of this policy are to:

  • support survivors
  • ensure procedural fairness and due process for all parties
  • hold those who have engaged in sexual violence accountable; and
  • support the safety and wellbeing of University community members

The policy also identifies appropriate procedures for students and for faculty and staff.

To ensure that the University can continue to meet the needs of its community, the Sexual Violence Policy and Procedures are reviewed and updated regularly.

McLaren Report

In 2020, McLaren Global Sport Solutions completed an independent review of policies and processes in the Department of Athletics. The firm was retained as a direct result of the firing of the University’s track and field coach, David Scott Thomas, in December 2019. Read the full McLaren Report.

As a part of its review, McLaren engaged with staff, coaches, student-athletes and administrators through a combination of interviews and surveys. The report yielded eight priority recommendations and 139 supplemental recommendations meant to help clarify and strengthen the Department of Athletics’ current policy environment while reducing risk for student-athletes, coaches and the University. 

Key recommendations

  • Ensure the integration of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct with the Policy on Non-Academic Misconduct and create a single adjudication process;
  • Ensure that the Coaches Code of Conduct is integrated with other University policies;
  • Develop a clearly defined and accessible process for student-athletes and coaches to report complaints confidentially;
  • Implement a structured performance evaluation for all coaches; and
  • Provide mandatory sexual violence and bystander intervention training for all student-athletes, coaches and other support personnel.

The Department of Athletics has made significant progress on implementing the McLaren Report recommendations.

Priority recommendations status: Each of the eight priority recommendations have been executed to the extent possible within the Department of Athletics.

Supplemental recommendations status: 134 of the 139 supplementary recommendations have been completed to the extent possible within the Department of Athletics. The remaining recommendations are of institutional scope and will be included as part of the McMurray review detailed below.


Sexual Violence Projects and Initiatives 

Steering Committee on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Violence

Combatting sexual violence requires communal, collaborative action, including involvement from units and departments across our campuses. The Steering Committee on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Violence (PASV) was created in 2021 to provide oversight and guidance around University policies, procedures and programs relating to sexual and gender-based violence.

PASV Terms of Reference and Committee Composition


Policies and Programs 

University of Guelph activities and programs addressing sexual violence reflect our commitment to supporting the whole campus community:

  • We must work to understand and review issues that are affecting all students, staff and faculty, including sexual and gender-based violence, abuses of power and other issues experienced by our campus community.
  • We must ensure that the measures we take today have a lasting impact on our leadership, culture and campus response to sexual violence for generations.

In 2021-22, the Student Affairs Advisory Committee on Sexual Violence reviewed Courage to Act: Developing a National Draft Framework to Address and Prevent Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions in Canada. This document and the committee’s findings are being used to inform the review of our Sexual Violence Policy and to guide implementation of best practices and procedures.

The outcomes of this work will inform support and resource development and ongoing reviews of campus policies and procedures relating to sexual violence, complaint and incident reporting and safe disclosure, including:

McMurray Report

The McMurray Report on the Assessment of Non-Academic Misconduct was received in March 2022. The report and subsequent recommendations provide a framework built around the principle of integrity through which the University will assess its approaches toward student misconduct within both the non-academic and the academic realms. The University is in the process of identifying next steps in the implementation of the recommendations; an action plan is expected by the end of December 2022.


Community Engagement

Inappropriate sexual behaviour will not be tolerated on our campuses. To ensure that U of G can deliver upon its commitment to provide a safe space for all members of our community, we must learn from our experiences – successes and failures – to build a better tomorrow. The University has engaged in ongoing discussion with Gryphon alumni athletes to ensure that their voices and histories are heard, understood and integrated into our planning. In doing so, we can ensure that future generations of students do not experience the same trauma.

Part of this engagement includes work to jointly design a restorative process at the University to address shared goals, outcomes and concerns. A working group comprising three U of G representatives and three alumni athletes is leading this initiative in consultation with Jennifer Llewellyn, professor of law and chair in restorative justice at Dalhousie University.