NEWS

Allan Rock to address misconduct at University of Ottawa

03/05/2014 06:17 EST | Updated 05/05/2014 05:59 EDT
University of Ottawa president Allan Rock was expected to make his first public statement Thursday about two serious allegations of sexual misconduct involving students at the school.

On Sunday, four student leaders resigned after a private Facebook chat involving sexually threatening banter about the president of the student federation was made public online.

The following day, the university suspended its men's hockey program as police investigate a complaint of sexual assault while the team was on a road trip in Thunder Bay.

Police in Thunder Bay continue to investigate the sexual assault case, but no charges have been laid.

Rock is scheduled to speak at the school's Faculty of Social Sciences building at 10 a.m. ET Thursday.

Sources tell CBC News he will announce the creation of a "working group" to address these issues.

New group brings recommendations

A new University of Ottawa student group calling themselves Let's Talk About Rape Culture sent out a news release early Thursday, saying these events are a "wake-up call to lift the veil on the all too common and often daily reality that is rape culture for women and men on our campus."

"This culture of rape, which is nothing less than the outright trivialization of all forms of sexual violence, cannot be swept under the rug and must be taken seriously by all, be they students, professors, union activists, employers, journalists, lawyers, etc.," the news release said.

Group members including students and members of the local student workers union said they had eight recommendations for the school, including creating a committee to look at rape culture policies and tools across campus, the creation of a women's help centre on campus and a day of public debate on rape culture.

Their website also includes a petition.

Anne-Marie Roy, the student union leader at the school and the target of the Facebook chat — in which one of the participants suggested she be "sexually punished" — said what happened to her is too common on campus.

"It seems like rape culture is very ingrained in the way some of these men are thinking, and it's very normalized — so much so that discussing these matters in a private conversation is OK," she said.

Former prof says athletes warned

Norm O'Reilly, a former sports management professor at the University of Ottawa who's now at Ohio University, told Ottawa Morning host Hallie Cotnam on Thursday current student-athletes normally get education about sexual assault as part of their involvement.

"People and athletes are very aware of the role they take and the fact they're an extension of the organization or brand they're representing," he said.

"Think of how universities have dealt with things like frosh week in general …. I think these situations happen a lot less than they used to."

O'Reilly said in general, organizations that respond quickly to a crisis and show they're not in favour of the activity in question don't suffer as much of a blow to their image as ones that may delay.

He said the fact Rock is taking a few days to respond to these situations is normal.

"No one of any kind of authority or any kind of depth would respond until you have the facts and you know the situation. The last thing you want to do is make any kind of mistake."

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