Several members of the Vancouver Island University Faculty Association (VIUFA) experienced sexual harassment by a student for more than a year. Harassment in the workplace, the Vancouver Island University (VIU) community, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Upon review of the facts, in consultation with the victims and upon review of portions of the investigator’s report, VIUFA takes the position that actions taken by VIU were neither reasonable nor appropriate.
VIU focused its initial examination of the faculty complaints on accommodation and the student’s allegation of discrimination, rather than upon a true understanding of the compelling facts of the harassment being experienced by the female faculty members, and their need to be safe. It is by no means clear as to what kind of accommodation assessment was carried out; nor, indeed, whether there was medical evidence to support the case for a disability. Regardless, timely processes and measures were not put in place to prevent further and continuing harassment to female faculty members.
A further problem with the University’s response involves the selection of the investigator. VIUFA is not satisfied he possessed nor demonstrated the experience, expertise, or sensitivity necessary to assess the traumatic impact of the harassing, intentional actions of the student; and it appears the investigator’s approach to his interviews reflected that initial, faulty focus, resulting in conclusions that the victims, and now VIUFA, do not find to be credible and cannot accept.
VIUFA’s position has been communicated to the President and members of the Senior Management Team. VIUFA Executive and members will be working closely with the Senior Management Team to ensure that such harassment will not occur at VIU in the future and that there are appropriate policies and processes in place to equally support faculty, students and everyone who interacts with the VIU community.