Concordia addresses allegations of sexual misconduct
To members of the Concordia community,
This afternoon, I became aware of a social media post (blog) that makes allegations against members in the university’s Department of English. There are specific allegations of sexual misconduct as well as general allegations of an abusive climate in the department’s well-known program in creative writing.
I am disturbed by what I read in the blog post. These allegations are serious, and will be treated seriously.
As virtually every news cycle now reminds us, our society is making a fundamental shift in its response to such allegations and behaviours. This shift is long overdue and critically important to all of us.
Over the past several years, Concordia University has taken several steps to strengthen the safety of our learning and working environment.
Our response is a work in progress. We continue to improve our efforts to prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment, and to respond effectively when it does happen.
These steps include the launch of our Sexual Assault Resource Centre, which recently received additional funding to increase its staff complement, and does excellent and important work.
In 2016, we adopted a new policy on sexual violence that aims to make the process for reporting clearer and less burdensome to survivors.
I urge members of our community to report sexual violence or misconduct by contacting the university's Office of Rights and Responsibilities at 514-848-2424, ext. 8659 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also support through the Sexual Assault Resource Centre as well as Counselling and Psychological Services.
I am personally committed to these and other efforts to continue building a safe and secure environment at the university, an environment free from sexual violence and harassment.
As I said, however, our efforts to achieve such an environment are a work in progress.
Sometimes that progress is public, as in the recent review by the Sexual Assault Policy Review Working Group, led by Deputy Provost Lisa Ostiguy. At other times, dealing with the confidentiality of complainants and respondents, by law our responses cannot be made public, even when progress is certainly being made.
As an academic community, we are in the midst of a major shift in how the world sees and responds to sexual harassment and sexual violence. This is an opportunity to strengthen the Concordia response even further and an imperative to do so.