If you choose to report sexual assault, harassment, or violence, know that there are many options available to you. You can report to the police or report informally or formally to the College. In some cases other members of the community can also report on your behalf if you give them consent to do so. Know that you are not alone, and if you choose to report there are resources on campus to help you.
OPTION 1: Tell someone
This is also known as "Disclosure". Telling someone you trust about what happened can help you feel validated, and can get you the support, guidance, and referrals if you need them. Telling someone doesn't mean you have to make a formal complaint. You may choose to disclose an incident of sexual violence or misconduct to a friend, another student, or a trusted member of the College community. Below are a list of people who may be able to help you:
- A friend or another student
- A trusted Langara employee
- Staff in Student Conduct and Judicial Affairs
- A member of the Campus Security Team
- A member of the Langara Students’ Union
- An external sexual violence support service
Specific responsibilities for key College departments and personnel are outlined in
Appendix B (PDF) of the Policy. Suggestions on how to respond to a disclosure are found in Appendix A (PDF) of the Policy.
OPTION 2: Informal Report to the College
Or, you may wish to notify the College of the incident without initiating an investigation. To do so, contact the Student Conduct and Judicial Affairs (SCJA) office either in person (Room T206b), on the phone (604.323.5817) or online. Once you contact the SCJA office, the staff will make a written record of the incident. You may say as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. Also, if you don't want any further action taken by the College, you can let the staff know.
Please note: The information you provide will be kept confidential unless:
- The allegation involves a minor,
- Federal or provincial legislation requires an investigation, or
- There is a reasonable assumption of risk to the individual or members of the College community.
OPTION 3: Request an investigation
You may choose to ask for an investigation into your complaint. Students may request an investigation by contacting the staff at Student Conduct and Judicial Affairs either in person (Room T206b), on the phone (604.323.5817) or online. If a student has made a previous informal report, this report may be used or expanded upon for the purposes of an investigation. Know that if you request an investigation, you may be asked to share the following information:
- Your name and contact information,
- The respondent's name (see definition) and contact information, if known
- A description of the incident(s) of sexual violence or harassment
- List of any witnesses to the incident and contact information
Once a report has been made, the Office of Student Conduct and Judicial Affairs will then work with you to discuss next steps and assist with any safety concerns or accommodations you may need while the investigation is ongoing. Know that you can withdraw from an investigation at any time by informing the Office.
The investigator will meet with the complainant to obtain details about the matter under investigation. A similar meeting will take place with the respondent. If there is more than one complainant and/or respondent, meetings will usually take place individually.
If the complainant and the respondent agree on what happened, further investigation is not usually needed. A decision can be made based on the information provided.
If there is disagreement, more investigation is usually required.
The investigator may ask the complainant and respondent to provide documents or records in support of their respective positions(s). These may include emails, text messages, image or video files, social media posts, audio recordings etc.
If the complainant or respondent has given the names of witnesses, those individuals may be contacted to provide information. Providing the name of a witness does not always mean that the witness will be contacted. The investigator will assess what, if any, relevant information a witness is likely to provide and decide whether or not to contact the witness.
The most valuable witnesses are those who saw or heard the incident(s). Witnesses who have experienced similar conduct or those who were told about an incident soon after it happed may have valuable information to provide. Witnesses who have information about the character of the complainant or the respondent are usually not interviewed unless credibility can not be established in any other way.
Assessing the evidence
Once all the information is gathered, the investigator will assess and weigh the evidence as it pertains to the complaint. Not all evidence has equal weight.
An investigator will generally try to find answers to the following questions:
- Does the conduct fall within the scope of College policy?
- Was the conduct of a sexual nature?
- Was consent given by word or action?
- To what extent was the consent conscious and unimpaired?
- Was a lack of consent deliberately or recklessly ignored?
Where there is little external evidence and a decision must be made regarding two conflicting accounts of an incident, the credibility of the parties must be assessed. An assessment of credibility is not based on who appears more truthful. It is based on the nature of the account, its plausibility and internal coherence, corroborating or conflicting information, omissions, previous incidents and sometimes demeanor.
When considering consent in situations of sexualize conduct, it is important to recognize that a number of factors may influence an individual’s understanding of the concept and application of consent. Despite social efforts to improve understanding of consent, in real-world interactions, consent may be ambiguous and indirect. In addition to current social realities, factors such as age, sexual experience, relationship of the parties, sexual or relationship education and consent-awareness must also be considered when assessing the existence or absence of consent during an investigation.
Once the evidence is assessed and weight, the investigator will determine if the policy has been violated. Decisions are made on the balance of probabilities based on the preponderance of evidence. In simpler terms, this means that the investigator must decide which version of events is more likely to have occurred, based on an assessment of the available relevant information. Where the likelihood is evenly balanced, it is not possible to conclude that an event occurred as alleged.
Notice to the parties
Both the complainant and respondent will receive a written summary outlining the findings of the investigation. Because this document contains personal information, the College requests that the privacy of the parties be respected and that the information be held in confidence.
Or, you may choose to report allegations through the criminal justice system by contacting your local Police Department. You can call on your own, or you can ask a friend or a Langara employee to sit with you while you call if it makes you feel safer. The College will cooperate with any criminal investigation.
If the sexual assault occurred within the last few days and you are in immediate danger you can call 911 to start the reporting process. If the sexual assault occurred awhile ago and you do not have immediate safety concerns, you can call the non-emergency number of the police detachment of the area in which the assault occurred (in Vancouver this number is (604) 717-3321).
If you don't want to report the incident directly to the SCJA office, you may ask a willing and trusting member of the College community or another third party to initiate the report on your behalf, providing you give them your written consent. Here is a consent form (PDF) you can download and use.
Remember: Whatever you decide to do is your choice. Do what feels right for you.