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

  • Coronavirus robs biblical Bethlehem of Christmas cheer

    World News CTV News
    BETHLEHEM, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY -- The coronavirus has cast a pall over Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem, all but shutting down the biblical town revered as Jesus' birthplace at the height of the normally cheery holiday season. Missing are the thousands of international pilgrims who normally descend upon the town. Source
  • Rights group asks Sri Lanka to probe deadly prison unrest

    World News CTV News
    COLOMBO, SRI LANKA -- An international human rights group has asked Sri Lanka to conduct an impartial investigation into prison unrest and the use of live ammunition by guards that resulted in the death of eight inmates and injuries to 59 others. Source
  • With Biden, pets poised for a return to the White House

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Major Biden is getting an early start in the spotlight as a presidential pet after a play date ended with his owner, President-elect Joe Biden, suffering a broken foot. As if that weren't enough for one weekend, it was also confirmed that Major will have to share the White House with, of all things, a cat. Source
  • Officials worry about hospital capacity as U.S. hits record number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized

    World News CTV News
    As the crush of incoming COVID-19 patients continues to strain hospitals across the U.S., officials across several states are worried their hospitals will be overwhelmed as the holiday season approaches. A record-high 96,039 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the U.S. Source
  • Opposition to B.C. pipeline linked to terrorism charges in Washington state

    World News CBC News
    Federal authorities in Seattle have charged two people with a terrorist attack on train tracks, suggesting they were motivated by opposition to the construction of a natural gas pipeline across British Columbia when they interfered with the operation of a railroad in Washington state. Source
  • Calgary hospitals told to conserve oxygen, but doctors fear request is a red flag

    Canada News CBC News
    Alberta Health Services says a memo urging Calgary hospital staff to reduce use of oxygen is a proactive response to an anticipated increase in demand as COVID-19 hospitalizations climb. But some doctors say the request is concerning and not something they've seen before. Source
  • 2 in opposition to B.C pipeline face U.S. terror charge over train track interference

    World News CTV News
    SEATTLE -- U.S. authorities in Seattle have charged two people with a terrorist attack on train tracks, suggesting they were motivated by opposition to the construction of a natural gas pipeline across British Columbia when they interfered with the operation of a railroad in Washington state. Source
  • Trump COVID-19 adviser Scott Atlas resigns from White House job

    World News CBC News
    Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post. A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Source
  • Trump science adviser Scott Atlas leaving White House job

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Dr. Scott Atlas, a science adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump who was skeptical of measures to control the coronavirus outbreak, is leaving his White House post. A White House official confirmed that the Stanford University neuroradiologist, who had no formal experience in public health or infectious diseases, resigned at the end of his temporary government assignment. Source
  • 'I try to be the voice for my daughter': six months since Chantel Moore's death, family still seeking answers

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- This week marks six months since the death of Chantel Moore, and the lawyer representing her estate says they haven't heard any new information on the status of the investigation into her death. Moore was shot and killed by an Edmundston, N.B. Source