Message from the President on Gender-Based Violence and Harassment

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

To the OCAD University Community,

Given the recent prominence of cases involving sexual violence and sexual harassment in educational institutions, cultural organizations, and beyond, I wanted to take this moment to remind members of our community about OCAD University’s policies and resources.

OCAD U is committed to creating and maintaining an environment where members of the university community can study and work free of sexual violence. Sexual violence is any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation.

The university takes sexual violence seriously and will address all acts of sexual violence that affect the University community promptly and fairly. OCAD U is committed to a survivor-centred approach and members of the university community who experience sexual violence will be supported and treated with compassion. The university will provide accommodations to ensure that all members of the university community can be successful in their work and studies.

The university recognizes that sexual violence can occur between individuals regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or relationship status, and that sexual violence is overwhelmingly committed against individuals who identify as women. Those who experience the intersection of multiple identities such as racialized and Indigenous Peoples, queer and trans individuals, people with disabilities, the international student community, and refugee and immigrant members of the OCAD U community are especially vulnerable to sexual violence. OCAD U acknowledges the missing and murdered Indigenous women, trans-women and women across the world whose lives have been harmed or lost to gender-based violence.

OCAD U is also committed to combatting the broader social attitudes about gender, sex and sexuality that normalize sexual violence and undermine gender-based equality. The university is dedicated to working together with survivors, first responders, experts in sexual violence, community organizations and the wider campus community to prevent and respond to sexual violence. Throughout the academic year, the university will provide a range of training and educational opportunities to support the university community in preventing and addressing sexual violence.

OCAD U will also work to support the right to sexual expression, representation and dialogue about sex and sexualities on our campus and in society.

On-campus support for student survivors of sexual violence

The Health & Wellness Centre is OCAD U’s primary point of contact for students affected by sexual or gender-based violence. Staff will provide information on internal and external supports and services, coordinate academic accommodations, outline options for reporting the incident and formal complaint options through the university’s Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence Policy

Even if students are unsure what their options are, or what their next step should be, Health & Wellness staff will discuss all options in a confidential, non-judgmental and safe environment. Students will be respected and supported in whatever decisions they make about next steps. A student is not required to make a report or file a complaint about an incident of sexual violence in order to obtain support or accommodations from the university.

Health & Wellness Centre
416-977-6000 Ext. 260 
6th Floor, 230 Richmond St. W. 
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Urgent same-day appointments are available. Drop-in for a day-of appointment or email/call to make a scheduled appointment time.

Safety & Security Services
Emergencies: 416-977-6000, Ext. 511 
or pick up the closest red phone on campus to be immediately connected.
Non-emergency: 416-977-6000, Ext. 366

Safety & Security Services staff are trained to respond to sexual assault disclosures. They will support members of the OCAD U community who wish to report a sexual assault either to the Toronto Police or internally through the Policy on Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Safety & Security Services can also work with you to develop a personal safety plan.

Through the Safety & Security Services Walk Safe Program, a personal security escort can be arranged 10 minutes prior to departure to walk you to or from the subway station/streetcar stops, parking facilities, between buildings on campus, inside buildings when changing locations, as well as to the Health & Wellness Centre or nearby supports.

On-campus support for faculty and staff survivors of sexual violence

Office of Diversity Equity & Sustainability Initiatives
416-977-6000 Ext. 4860
6th Floor, 230 Richmond St. W.,

OCAD U has a Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy (RWLEP). It says that harassment and discrimination violate an individual’s human rights and run contrary to the University’s fundamental values. OCAD U will act promptly to address this conduct and will ensure that individuals are able to express concerns and register complaints without fear of reprisal.

At any time, you can contact ODESI to confidentially ask a question, raise a concern or seek assistance on how to address an issue, including gender-based violence.

As President of OCAD University, I cannot emphasize enough how important the safety and security of our students, staff and faculty is to the institution. I believe we must work together to support those who have been affected by sexual violence and harassment, take action if we’ve been witness to such activity and build a community where we can build communities that are safer for all of us.


Sara Diamond


Dr. Sara Diamond
President & Vice Chancellor, OCAD University

Shipping container exhibition in Butterfield Park tackles sexual violence

Colourful container with "It's Never OK" on the side
Thursday, November 24, 2016 - 5:00am

This fall, OCAD U students responded to the issue of sexual violence by participating in a workshop series that culminated as a traveling exhibition, Unknotted — the OCAD U activation of Sexual Assault: The Roadshow.  Led by professor Lillian Allen and sexual assault activist Jane Doe, the exhibition features community-led art that responds to sexual violence across the province. It remains in Butterfield park through November 25. 

Participating students, from across several disciplines, focused on building a nuanced understanding of social justice, oppression, consent culture and bystander intervention to resist and reimagine sexual violence in the OCAD U community.  At the container, situated in Butterfield Park, visitors view an evolving fabric installation representing four grounding principles of by-stander intervention. Visitors can navigate the space and share an experience, ask questions, send a message or co-sign their commitment to responding to sexual violence, by tying written messages into the fabric of the installation.

The retrofitted container will travel on a flatbed truck to 15 cities/areas in Ontario over a three-year period. At each stop, local artists will work with anti-violence experts and community participants to create, curate and exhibit art that “talks back” to sexual assault.

The project was facilitated by Sheila Sampath, assistant professor in the Faculty of Design and creative director at The Public Studio and sponsored by OCAD U’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Working Group.  The project was created and informed by OCAD U students Wil Brask, Leilah Dhoré, Morgan Elena, L-fy Delgado, Natalie Mark, Dana McCool, Khadijah Morley, Lizz Khan and Francis Tompkins.

Learn more about OCAD U’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Working Group


Banners inside the exhibition
Students standing in front of the exhibition

Survivor Stitch-In

Monument Quilt sample
Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 5:00pm to 11:00pm

Survivor Stitch-In is a free supportive and activist event for the OCADU community. The Survivor Stitch-In draws on the long history of quilting, and specifically on the work of the Monument Quilt, based in Maryland USA, and provides gathering space for survivors of sexual violence and their allies to create quilt squares that will be sewn together into a larger quilt and displayed at OCADU. 


Wednesday November 16 - Friday November 18 from 12-6pm daily

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 1pm - quilting square instruction session

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2-4pm - Health & Wellness Centre supportive staff present


Survivor Stitch-in is generously supported by: ODESI and the OCADU Material Art & Design program

Organized by the Health & Wellness Center and the Student Gallery


Venue & Address: 
Student Gallery, 52 McCaul St.
Monument Quilt sample

Community Consultation on OCADU's Proposed Sexual Violence Policy

Discussion on Proposed Sexual Violence Policy
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

OCAD! We need your expertise and input! 

OCAD U has created a draft Policy on the Prevention and response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. It outlines the University’s commitments and practices/procedures around aspects such as: privacy and confidentiality, disclosure, reporting, and filing complaints, as well as resources and supports for students. This is a chance for you to ask questions, make recommendations, and help create a policy that best meets the needs of OCAD. 

Location: Lambert Lounge, rm.187, 1st floor, 100 McCaul St


Venue & Address: 
Lambert Lounge, rm 187, 100 McCaul

3rd Annual Walk To End Child Sexual Abuse

youth out loud
Sunday, June 1, 2008 - 3:00pm to 8:00pm

CAASA/ACCAS at OCAD, affiliated with Canadian Artists against Sexual Assault/Artistes Canadiens Contre L'Assaut Sexuel, invite the OCAD community to participate in this fundraising and awareness walk.

Registration: 11 am

Event: 12 noon

Walk: 1 pm

Closing ceremony,live music and browse until 4 pm.

Speakers and performers include Lee Maracle, Raw Taiko Drummers, Sharon Simone, Glenn Marais, The Raging Grannies, The Tooners, No Boundaries, and others!

Venue & Address: 
Dundas Square (Dundas and Yonge), Toronto, Ontario

CAASA/ACCAS at OCAD Group Meeting

Thursday, March 20, 2008 - 2:30pm to 4:30pm

Light refreshments will be served but we recommend you bring bring your lunch.

Don't forget pen and paper or laptop.

All interested OCAD students are welcome to attend this meeting.

RSVP is required for this event.


Affiliated with Canadian Artists Against Sexual Assault/Artistes Canadiens Contre L'Assaut Sexuel

It is our commitment to the community to act on the need for an increase in artistic education of the prevalence of sexual assault in Canada. Members communicate strategically on topics connected to our goals, and educate the masses about this common, but misunderstood act of violence.

Extending beyond CAASA/CACCAS is the opportunity for members of the community to participate with members at events and fundraising initiatives to support Victim Service Associations and Rape Crisis Centres in Canada.

A not-for-profit group, CAASA/CACCAS focuses on all media in the arts as a means of communication, with member works and external submitted works. Ultimately our goal is to negate stigmatization of victims, support survivors in a safe and open environment, and to use art as a tool for communicating our values and organization goal to eradicate sexual assault entirely.

Venue & Address: 
Room 187, Level 1 100 McCaul Street, Toronto, Ontario

Artists and Advocates to Join in Challenging Attitudes on Sexual Violence and Harassment

Sara Diamond with OCAD Students and Government Leaders
Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 4:00am

Ontario Launches $2.25 Million Creative Engagement Fund

Ontario has launched a $2.25 million Creative Engagement Fund, which will partner Ontario artists and advocates to help prevent sexual violence. They will challenge norms and change attitudes about sexual violence and harassment through artistic projects.
The Creative Engagement Fund will support artists in provoking dialogue and action on issues such as sexual consent, rape culture and misogyny. Artists should apply now through the Ontario Arts Council, who will administer the fund. The artistic projects may include any type of creative expression - performance, writing, music, photography, theatre, videos, online engagement, installation, painting, graffiti arts, murals and traditional Aboriginal arts. 

Artists and art organizations will partner with sexual violence and harassment prevention organizations or experts to ensure projects are informed by the experience of survivors of sexual violence and those who work closely with them. Successful applicants will be announced in March 2016. 

The Creative Engagement Fund is part of It's Never Okay  - Ontario's Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment. The plan will help change attitudes, improve supports for survivors and make workplaces and campuses safer and more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment. It will help ensure that everyone in the province can live in safety and is free from the threat, fear or experience of sexual violence and harassment.


Fifteen per cent of the Creative Engagement Fund is dedicated to supporting Aboriginal projects.
To date, Ontario’s #WhoWillYouHelp public awareness campaign has reached over 83.5 million people around the world.
Ontario is also supporting public education campaigns across Ontario’s education sectors, including Draw-the-Line/Traçons-les-limites and It Starts with You. It Stays With Him/ Ça commence avec toi. Ça reste avec lui campaigns.

Application and guidelines for the Creative Engagement Fund

Read: It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment

Join the conversation on Twitter: #ItsNeverOkay

"Art doesn’t just entertain — it reflects who we are as a society. The Creative Engagement Fund will support artists as they create projects that confront deeply entrenched beliefs and stereotypes and shed new light on issues of sexual violence and harassment in communities across Ontario. To successfully challenge rape culture, we all have a role to play. We must use every tool at our disposal in putting an end to sexual violence and harassment in our province."
 — Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario
"Artists have challenged deep-rooted beliefs for centuries, often making us confront hard truths about our society. Through the Creative Engagement Fund, we want artists to use their creativity and skill to approach challenging topics like sexual assault, harassment, consent and rape culture."
 — Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues
"Art can fuel ideas on important issues and be a powerful tool to achieve positive social change. I’m proud that our government is supporting Ontario’s artists through the Creative Engagement Fund and I look forward to these creative projects that will add to the conversation on preventing sexual violence."
 — Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
"The arts can inform, provoke and hold a mirror to society. The collaborative projects that will be supported by the Creative Engagement Fund will bring together artists, communities and the people who work to prevent sexual violence and harassment to help transform attitudes and behaviours."
 — Rita Davies, Chair, Ontario Arts Council

Embed Video: 

Creating a culture of consent

Image of zine called Create Consent
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 4:00am

First-year OCAD University students received something new in their Welcome Packets this September: Create Consent, a ‘zine that aims to create consent culture in a way that centres anti-oppression and intersectionality.

Developed at a two-day student workshop facilitated by OCAD U faculty Sheila Sampath and led by OCAD U’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Awareness Working Group, the 30-page ‘zine is a student resource that examines issues of sexual consent in classrooms and studios, on-line and in our communities. It offers information on where to go for support in cases of sexual violence and marks the beginning of a series of initiatives to continue this dialogue.    

The ‘zines are available around campus and at the Office of Diversity, Equity & Sustainability Initiatives at 115 McCaul.

At the Student Gallery, the grassroots non-profit organization Bad Subject facilitated a workshop called “Let’s talk consent!” Participants engaged in role-playing activities to develop practical tools to gain and understand consent.

Find out more about sexual violence resources available on- and off-campus.

Read OCAD U President Dr. Sara Diamond’s statement about the university’s policies and resources.

The Ontario Government’s #whowillyouhelp video has received international attention for its stark message on sexual violence. Watch and share!




Statement from President Diamond on It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 4:00am

As president of OCAD University, I applaud Premier Wynne’s Action Plan on Sexual Violence. This plan will target behaviours and cultures in our elementary and secondary schools, courts, police forces, workplaces, universities and colleges.

Please read the Action Plan and take a moment to view a powerful video that is part of the Province’s multi-media implementation campaign.

OCAD University has strong policies against sexual harassment and violence. In the fall I issued a message highlighting policies, procedures and support for those who have been affected by sexual violence. Please take a moment to learn about these resources available to our community.

Nonetheless we are in the process of revisiting these policies in collaboration with students, with a special focus on ensuring safety for women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans members of our community. We are looking at ways in which we can increase prevention and awareness of sexual violence on and off campus and support those who have been affected by such violence.

Deanne Fisher, our Associate Vice-President, Students, is a member of the Council of Ontario Universities’ Reference Group on Sexual Violence, which will support the action plan by reviewing policies and sharing best practices within the university sector in Ontario. Emily Rourke, Director of Campaigns and Outreach for the OCAD Student Union, has been actively involved in the discussions with the Premier on these issues and will co-lead, with the AVP Students, the development of the OCAD University strategy.