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A message from the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling

 

The Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling is outraged to learn that students at Concordia, past and present, have been subject to sexual harassment, coercion, and aggression during their studies. We believe that universities must be places of equal access to education and success, completely free of the sort of unwanted attention, sexual bullying, and threatening departmental culture that have been recounted by former students in recent weeks.

While recognizing that individuals of any age can be targeted, COHDS is particularly mindful of the university’s position of responsibility with respect to its younger members. Students' families are entrusting young people into this institution's care when they register at Concordia. But all students are entitled to a learning environment in which they can discover who they are as individuals and professionals without risk of that journey being sexualized by a professor, teaching assistant, or member of staff, who clearly hold positions of power in relation to the student's potential achievement in their courses and their degree.

At COHDS we are frequently dealing with the lived experiences of people who have endured traumatic events at every scale. But no matter the scale of the event, the impact of trauma can last years, if not a lifetime. While it is heartening to know that the Quebec government is interested in taking action, we believe it is essential that Concordia University drafts a policy without delay that prohibits sexual or romantic relationships between professors and students, teaching assistants and students, and staff and students, for the duration of the student's degree/time in program. Further, we believe that this policy must place accountability for any transgression of this policy clearly on the shoulders of the professor, teaching assistant, or staff member. We also call for a public education initiative on the Concordia campus, that sees a poster and/or other campaign that aids students in understanding what their rights are, what constitutes sexual coercion, and who they can turn to for immediate action on their behalf.

Finally, we appreciate that the University is emphasizing resources that are available to members of the community (students, staff, or faculty) in need: specifically that people report any instances of inappropriate conduct to our Office of Rights and Responsibilities at 514-848-2424, ext. 8659 or by email at rights@concordia.ca. COHDS encourages anyone wishing to report such conduct to also copy their email to another appropriate party, whether the Chair of their Department, the Dean of Students (andrew.woodall@concordia.ca), or the Sexual Assault Centre (sarc@concordia.ca).

At COHDS, we feel it is important that these stories and testimonies do not only go to one recipient within the institution. And, should it be needed, we are glad to offer our support to any individual in our community who needs an ally in the moment of going forward. The Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling asserts the right of all students, especially women, to learn and evolve within a University environment that facilitates, indeed, upholds their security, agency, and freedom.


 

Concordia University