UBC professors organize conference after alleged sexual assaults

VANCOUVER -- When an institution fails a victim after a sexual assault, that betrayal worsens the trauma from the attack, says a leading U.S.

See Full Article

expert who is set to speak at the University of British Columbia.

Jennifer Freyd, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, will deliver a keynote speech on "institutional betrayal" at a two-day sexual assault conference at the university in Vancouver.

A group of professors set up the event, called Sexual Assault: Discourse and Dialogue 2016, following complaints the university took 18 months to act on multiple assault allegations against a PhD student.

"Colleges and universities are supposed to be on your side," Freyd said in an interview.

"At least in the U.S., universities really advertise themselves that way, as a safe haven that you're going to go to and you're going to be protected and watched out for. When that expectation is not fulfilled, it's a crushing situation for people."

Several former and current history graduate students held a news conference in November to allege UBC had dragged its heels on complaints against a PhD candidate. One woman is planning a human rights case against the school.

The incident prompted an apology from interim president Martha Piper and a promise to develop a standalone sexual assault policy. Currently, the university relies on a general discrimination and harassment policy.

Philosophy professor Carrie Ichikawa Jenkins said the conference was one of many suggestions that emerged when a group of concerned UBC faculty members met in December.

The aim of the event, which begins Monday, is to bring the university community together to share experience or expertise on sexual assault and to form ideas on how to improve the current situation, she said.

"The ultimate goal is to have a good, functional, sexual assault policy at UBC. This event exists to help make that happen."

The conference was developed with help from staff and administrators and funded by the university, she added.

Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president of equity and inclusion, said she expects a review to be launched soon that will help inform a new policy. An expert panel will deliver a report by May, she said.

Nearly 100 faculty members have signed an open letter apologizing for "not doing and not demanding better" to ensure students are protected from sexual assaults.

Freyd, who speaks Tuesday, has been studying "betrayal trauma," or abuse by a trusted person, for 20 years. More recently, she has focused on institutional betrayal, or when institutions fail to respond to or protect against wrongdoing.

When Freyd heard about the issues unfolding at UBC, she said they sounded familiar -- except for the faculty's open letter.

"I was just blown away by that, because I had not seen something like that before," she said. "It's the opposite of institutional betrayal. It's being really accountable."

There are several ways to protect against institutional betrayal, she said, including responding well to reports of assault, educating people about the potential harms, bearing witness to victims and apologizing when appropriate, encouraging whistleblowers and, above all, being transparent.

"All these bad things we've been talking about thrive in secrecy," she said. "The more things are transparent, the less likely you're going to have those problems."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Chase with stolen UPS truck ends with deadly shootout in Florida

    World News CBC News
    Police said there were multiple fatalities Thursday after a UPS driver in Florida was kidnapped by at least two robbery suspects who led police on a two-county chase that ended in gunfire at a busy intersection during rush hour. Source
  • Tories, NDP won't support throne speech but Bloc will back Liberals' agenda if it comes to vote

    Canada News CBC News
    The Conservatives and the New Democrats are against it, but the Bloc Québécois supports it, so should the throne speech be put to a vote in the House of Commons, it has enough support to pass. Source
  • Uber received more than 3,000 reports of sexual assaults in U.S. in 2018

    World News CBC News
    Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies said Thursday it received more than 3,000 reports of sexual assault, including rape, related to its trips in the United States in 2018 — a time when it operated roughly 1.3 billion rides. Source
  • British cave diver suing Elon Musk says he has no need to apologize to Tesla chief

    World News CBC News
    The British cave explorer suing Elon Musk for calling him a "pedo guy" on Twitter testified Thursday that his criticism of the Tesla CEO that led to the tweet was not a personal attack. In the defamation trial's third day, Vernon Unsworth also refused to apologize for a July 13, 2018, CNN interview in which he said that Musk's offer of a mini-submarine to help rescue a boys' soccer team from a flooded Thailand cave was a "PR stunt" and Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts. Source
  • Royal Canadian Legion says online swindlers are trading on its name

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The Royal Canadian Legion is shutting down unauthorized retailers using its trademarked poppy symbol to sell merchandise on sites such as Facebook, Amazon and Shopify. According to the legion, some of these companies are even falsely claiming to be connected to the legion or that they’re donating proceeds from their sales to the legion. Source
  • Chase with stolen UPS truck ends with shootout, 4 dead

    World News CTV News
    MIAMI -- Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed Thursday after robbers stole the driver's truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy Florida intersection during rush hour, a law enforcement official said. Source
  • RCMP to get more money to settle sexual harassment lawsuit

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government is promising to give the Royal Canadian Mounted Police more money to cover a historic class-action lawsuit after more women than originally expected came forward with stories of harassment and sexual abuse. Today, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos tabled the supplementary estimates in the House of Commons, which includes a top-up of more than $50 million for the RCMP to cover the out-of-court settlement. Source
  • Violence against health workers complicating measles outbreak in Ebola-ravaged Congo

    World News CBC News
    Violence against health workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo is complicating the response to a massive measles outbreak and accelerating the spread of the disease, which has claimed twice as many lives than an ongoing Ebola epidemic. Source
  • Chinese ambassador warns Canada against adopting motion calling for sanctions

    Canada News CBC News
    China's ambassador to Canada is threatening what he called "very firm countermeasures" should Parliament adopt a motion calling for sanctions against Chinese leaders. Ambassador Cong Peiwu reacted today to comments by two Conservative senators who are planning to table a motion next week calling on the Trudeau government to impose sanctions on China for its alleged human rights abuses. Source
  • Supreme Court won't hear appeal from former Nazi death squad member

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Jewish groups across the country hailed the Supreme Court's decision not to allow an elderly man who lied about his time working for a Nazi death squad to continue his fight to retain Canadian citizenship, while his family decried the move as a miscarriage of justice. Source