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Newfoundland's Memorial University Orders Sexual Harassment Investigation For Med School

"These concerns have included allegations of bullying, intimidation, harassment and sexual harassment."

11/30/2017 09:20 EST | Updated 11/30/2017 09:20 EST
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Memorial University is calling in an outside investigator amid allegations of sexual harassment at its medical school.

"There have been several concerns raised about the faculty of medicine's learning environment that are extremely troubling to me as dean," Margaret Steele, the dean of medicine, said in a letter to faculty.

"These concerns have included allegations of bullying, intimidation, harassment and sexual harassment."

A spokesman for the St. John's, N.L., school, wouldn't elaborate on the nature of the allegations Wednesday, but said the university's president had agreed to Steele's request for an outside investigator.

These concerns have included allegations of bullying, intimidation, harassment and sexual harassment.

"Dr. Steele learned of the allegations earlier this month and immediately and proactively contacted the Sexual Harassment Office," said spokesman David Sorensen. "As per the provisions of the sexual harassment and sexual assault policy, a request was made for a unit assessment of the faculty of medicine."

Steele's letter, sent last week, outlined concerns that had "come to my attention."

"I contacted the sexual harassment advisor, Rhonda Shortall, indicating the incidents and concerns raised may be of a sexual nature and may constitute sexual harassment under the sexual harassment and sexual assault policy."

Faculty facing scrutiny by professional college

In her letter, Steele said the unit assessment would focus on the faculty of medicine's policies so that they are in alignment with the university's harassment and sexual assault policy, and also on the culture and learning environment in relation to reporting incidents.

"I am committed to a learning environment free of bullying, intimidation, harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault," said Steele.

Steele's revelations come as the faculty faces scrutiny by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

We won't be making any comment about the nature of the complaint or complainants until the review is completed.

The college issued a notice of intent last spring to withdraw accreditation over allegations of intimidation involving faculty and students, giving the faculty two years to fix its problems.

Sorensen said the latest concerns aren't related to those raised by the college.

He said the university intends to announce the name of the independent assessor within the next two weeks, along with the terms of reference for the investigation.

"We won't be making any comment about the nature of the complaint or complainants until the review is completed," Sorensen said.

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