Sexual Misconduct

The Code of Student Behaviour states that it is an offence to “have sexual or physical contact with another person without that person’s consent.” (Section 30.3.4(6)a

Engaging in sexual activities without consent is also included in the Criminal Code of Canada, which defines consent as a voluntary agreement to engage in the sexual activity in question. (Section 273.1)

Obtaining consent is the key to avoiding trouble – never assume you have consent. If your potential partner has not agreed to engage in the sexual activity you have in mind, you do not have consent and must ask for it!

This is what consent looks like:

By word or overt conduct 
  • If a person says, “yes, I want to do this” you have consent. If you are unsure whether they are agreeing to the sexual act(s), simply ask - then respect their answer.
  • Each person can only agree or consent for themselves – no one else can give permission on their behalf.
Freely given
  • Consent is free and voluntary. A person who has been compelled, cajoled, coerced, intimidated, harassed or otherwise “talked into” an act has not given free and voluntary consent.
  • Consent is not obtained if it is gained through abuse of a position of power, trust or authority.
Consent to one thing does not mean there is consent to another.
  • For example, a person who agrees to kiss you has not, by extension, agreed to any other sexual act. 
  • Just because you used to be in a relationship with someone, or even if you are currently in a relationship, you don’t automatically have consent. You must be sure you have consent for each act.
Can be withdrawn 
  • A person is allowed to decide not to participate at any time, even after giving consent. 
For an excellent primer on consent see the article entitled “Consent 101” on pages 9-10 of this e-zine.

Sexual Harassment

We often often think of sexual harassment as something related to the workplace, but it can also happen in your living space (Residence) or your academic life (classes, labs). Sexual harassment is defined in the Discrimination, Harassment and Duty to Accommodate Policy as:

“… unwelcome conduct or comment of a sexual nature which detrimentally affects the work, study or living environment or otherwise leads to adverse consequences for the target of the harassment. It may consist of unwanted sexual attention, sexually oriented remarks or behaviours, or the creation of a negative psychological and emotional environment based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It may be an isolated act or repetitive conduct, but cannot be trifling. A reprisal or threat of reprisal against an individual for rejecting a sexual solicitation or advance may also constitute sexual harassment. The person(s) engaged in harassment need not have the intention to harass; it is the objective assessment of the circumstances that matters. How would a reasonable observer perceive the situation? A complainant need not expressly object to unwelcome conduct or comments, although any clear indication that the behaviour is unwanted will satisfy the test. A complainant's apparent passivity or failure to object overtly to sexual advances does not necessarily signal consent or welcomed behaviour, especially where a power imbalance exists between the individuals."


Who can you talk to if you think you have been subjected to sexual misconduct or assault? Or if you’ve seen something you worry might be sexual misconduct or assault?

Get more information at:


Common misconceptions about consent

  • A lack of resistance is not the same as consent. Not saying “no” does not mean “yes.”
  • A person’s manner of dress never implies consent.
  • A prior or current relationship does not mean you have consent to a present act. 
  • A person who acquiesces or submits as a result of Force or Coercion has not given consent. 
  • Force includes but is not limited to physically overpowering, restraining, holding down or confining.
  • Coercion is using pressure, tricks, threats or intimidation to get another person to give in or submit to participating in sexual acts.
  • A person who is Incapacitated has not given consent. Incapacitation refers to any state in which a person is not able to give consent. 

    Examples include (but are not limited to)
    : when a person is asleep, unconscious, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, etc. If there are signs of intoxication, for example, slurred speech, vomiting, moving in and out of consciousness, you must presume the person is incapacitated. Even if they say ‘yes’ when they are incapacitated, this is not consent.

If a complaint of sexual misconduct is made against you, it will be important for you to be able to describe what words, actions or indications made you believe you had your partner’s consent.  A determination will be made on a case-by-case basis, considering the entirety of the situation.

Some examples of sexual harassment can include:

  • Unwanted text messages or emails of a sexual nature;
  • Texted or emailed pictures of a person in sexy poses or in partial or full undress;
  • Comments or pictures posted on Facebook or other social media sites that are sexual in nature;
  • Inappropriate nicknames;
  • Unwanted sexual jokes;
  • Unwanted sexual attention or advances;
  • Unwanted touching that feels inappropriate;
  • Unwanted questions or innuendo about your sex life;
  • Unwanted comments about how “hot” you are;
  • Quid pro quo offers (E.g.: I’ll give you a better grade if you have sex with me.)