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UBC responds to mishandled sexual assault, HR complaint

Emma Partridge is the news editor of The Ubyssey, the official student newspaper of the University of British Columbia.

National University Wire — In an already-controversy laden year, all eyes are on the University of British Columbia as CBC releases their full investigation into the way the administration handled multiple instances of sexual misconduct by the same PhD student, Dmitry Mordvinov.

In the wake of the CBC’s reporting, interim UBC President Martha Piper issued an apology to the women who Mordvinov assaulted. Piper noted that she appreciates “the light the women have shone on this issue, and I want to make a pledge. We will begin a discussion with our students, faculty and staff on a separate sexual assault policy.”

Despite Piper’s statement, Glynnis Kirchmeier — one of the women who made a report to UBC regarding the inappropriate behaviour directed at her by Mordvinov — announced in a press conference on Sunday that she would be filing a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal against the university, for their handling of the reported incident.

According to Kirchmeier, she brought concerns about Mordvinov to the history department in January of 2014 for behaviours she had witnessed as far back as 2011.

However, Mordvinov was only expelled last week.

“UBC has a legal duty to provide a harassment-free environment. The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that there’s a legal duty to warn potential victims, and UBC has a legal duty to report their knowledge to the police,” Kirchmeier said at the press conference. “In my well-documented experience of 22 months of speaking to 10 employees from four offices within the university, UBC administrators utterly ignored these ethical and legal duties.”

According to CBC, at least two accusations surfaced in 2014 against Mordvinov. It is unclear whether one of these was referenced by Kirchmeier in the press conference.
Although Piper remained adamant in the last meeting of the UBC Senate that sexual assault will not be tolerated on this campus, a statement issued by UBC spokesperson Susan Danard also noted, “we can do better and we will do better.”

“While the university had to wait until it had the necessary facts to take action, I acknowledge that the process took too long,” Piper wrote in a statement on the university’s website, which was then circulated in a broadcast email to the entire UBC community the night that the documentary was set to air.

Despite these admissions, Kimberley Beck, legal counsel at the Office of the University Counsel, said that she believes in the university’s reporting process already in place for victims of assault.

“I think the people who go through our process are generally satisfied with the care and attention … that the committee gives to them,” Beck said, speaking of the nonacademic misconduct committee that deals with reports of sexual assault when they’ve been made internally. The process uses a structure of investigating in which both victim and perpetrator are asked questions by the committee.

“In cases of sexual assault … if they wish not to be seen by the alleged perpetrator, we can put up screens we can make other arrangements. We can do it by video conferencing.”

The committee is made up of a group of selected students. According to Ashley Bentley of the AMS’s Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC), many survivors may not wish to report in this way because it involves disclosure to a group of students.

Bentley also noted that a lack of a single policy on sexual assault can be problematic. Currently, the university relies on Policy 3, which relates to harassment and discrimination. According to a board document, the office received 273 files and only six were referred for formal investigation under Policy 3 over the last 18 months.
In addition, certain survivors have said they felt actively silenced by the university.
“I have been asked to share the experience of one current student not in the Faculty of Arts. She told me that she reported an abusive colleague to the equity office a year and a half ago, and they gave her a … “gag-order” — her words,” said Kirchmeier.

As a result of the slow process it took to expel Mordvinov, Kirchmeier will file a complaint with the BC Humans Rights Tribunal and UBC will have to face the consequences.
“Now the lights are turned on and the university is going to be tried in the court of public opinion. Then it is going to answer to the BC Human Rights Tribunal and I suspect it will be tried in civil court as well. UBC did this to itself,” Kirchmeier said.
When asked where exactly Beck felt that the process of reporting and handling a sexual assault was weak, she spoke mainly of getting information to students about the options they have available to them after an assault.

“I think a place we could do better is getting information out to our community — particularly our students — about what’s out there for them, about the places they can go,” Beck said. “What we want to do is make sure that we are communicating clearly to our students what their resources are.”

Some have been calling for a policy review following the complaints against Mordvinov. When asked whether UBC’s process for handling sexual assault will change in the future after these concerns about UBC’s reporting process surfaced, Chad Hyson, associate director of student conduct and safety, said “we’re constantly taking in the feedback that we’ve received regarding our processes as any organization does.”
“We learn every time we have a hearing,” Hyson said.

4 Comments

  1. Overall in statistics… men are more likely to have “standard deviation” from average person in society compared to women… that can mean more at top of math class and bottom of math class, more successful in business world and more doing stuff like rape and robbery.

    3x to 5x as many males commit suicide for example and media covers female teens who commit suicide with sympathy over their being “bullied” or “bad treatment in jail”, while the men are non story.

  2. If both sides could be hurt, is a balancing act between ruining lives of females who get raped or harassed and ruining lives of innocent men… the men could be turned into homeless/lost to society type as result, 5x as many homeless men as women right now. Lose job, lose schooling, potentially lose house and vehicle if spend some time in prison while charges are pending before charges are dropped, lose friends, extreme fear of jail for years, etc… I hear stories, I have not gone through it myself.

  3. 2 sides to issue, a false accusation of rape can be as damaging or more damaging than an actual rape, seen guy driven to insanity for a while and his entire life to a degree ruined, he was successful business man with wife and 4 kids, they all suffered.

    First day of pretrial the teenage girl admitted she lied, to deflect from her own issues.

    When I was younger I had a teenage girl sit beside me and explain how she had previously lied about her mom abusing her to get out of her authority. She later ended up pregnant, she said someone had sex with her when she was intoxicated/unconscious…

    It goes both ways, and the stats that say rare for females to lie are misleading when based on arrests/convictions and in most cases not even charges are laid… top example, no charges were laid against girl so no show up in stats as a lie.

    The girl who probably lied to rolling stone mag and damaged life of bunch of boys, no charges laid either, no big deal, would not show up in a feminist study statistics on trueness of rape accusations.

    When the charges against Micheal Jackson were questionable, lady *might* have lied about it to extort $$$, since no charges laid against her would show up in statistics as 0% chance was false charges.

    Men do sexual assaults, agreed. But at same time some women do lie about it as way to get revenge for supposed wrongs. At same time there is also exaggerations in some cases… have cases where women to same degree have unwanted advances on men, the women would call that rape, the men no chance to do same and get same treatment… eg if a man fondles a females breasts is rape, but at same time openly talked about how fan women without permission fondle private parts of rock star they don’t know in mag with no thought if it being similar rape.

  4. Let’s look at the axiom implicitly promulgated in 99% of modern media re gender isues:
    “The appropriate way to handle women’s issues is not necessarily to solve them but to discuss them in the media.”

    Rather than reporting this to the police, who have unquestionable power to take action as it is a legal matter, it is instead shoved into the hands of the university. What if the reports are merely defamation? What if they’re embellished? There is a legal process and a legal justice system for a reason, it is senseless to expect UBC to take extreme measures over a thus far verdict-less matter. Medical/forensic science have given us medical tools that reliably certify whether a rape took place, the truth is #problematic, I know. Why this woman did not go to the police FIRST, being an adult (in a PHD program no less) rather than talking to staff members or contacting the media is mind boggling. Why she would willfully circumvent justice for a lengthy period of time only to demand justice later just goes to show you that they let people who can’t think for themselves into UBC arts.

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