University president Allan Rock held a news conference Thursday, calling a sexually explicit online chat about the head of the student union and allegations of sexual assault against several members of the since-suspended men’s hockey team “appaling.”
He announced a “Task Force on Respect and Equality” which will bring specific recommendations back to him in the fall.
University of Ottawa professor Gilles Paquet said he would have liked to see a suspension of the five students who were involved in the sexually aggressive chat about the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa president (SFUO) Anne-Marie Roy.
“This thing is unacceptable, period …," he said. "I would have expected, from a governance point of view, that my leaders would have said, ‘this is unacceptable, the penalty effective now is [that] temporarily all of these people are suspended.'
“This extraordinary timidity, this gutlessness does not correspond to what I think … most of the university feels].”
Rock said the task force will examine the issue of academic punishment.
Doubts about task force
The president of the professors association said Thursday he’s wondering why that report back to the school will take so long.
“I would expect a shorter timeline because we're only talking about a report,” said Christian Rouillard. “We're not talking about implementation; that can take quite a while … so things could be and should be sped up.”
Isabelle Hetu, a graduate student and teaching assistant who also heads the university’s union of student workers, said she was hoping for more.
“I don't know if you've seen any other reports, but there's (been) lots of task forces that have been created by the University of Ottawa in the past years,” she said.
“They've all ended up on a shelf, and no one's heard about it.”
Hetu is also a signatory to a letter to the university from a new student group called Let’s Talk About Rape Culture, which has put forward eight recommendations including a mandatory course about harassment and discrimination and the creation of a women’s help centre.
“I would have liked the president of the university to recognize rape culture exists on campus,” she said.
“Whether we have great values on paper doesn't mean it doesn't exist on a daily basis on campus."
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