Consent & Complaints: A Statement on the Systems Perpetuating Violent Power Dynamics at Concordia

Last week, the CBC reported that this past September a Concordia Creative Writing professor had been “exonerated” of complaints of sexual violence and harassment. The complainants received no information about the change of status. We condemn the mishandling of this case. From what we and our community members have learned about the official complaint process at Concordia, this end result is all too common.

There are, however, still two “unnamed” part-time teachers in the Creative Writing Department that are on leave and being investigated through a similar procedure. A few days prior to the CBC’s report, the Concordia University Part-time Faculty Association (CUPFA) hosted a panel conversation on Sexual Misconduct, Consent, and the University Climate. CUPFA is the union representing these two suspended professors.

Alongside activists like Julie Lalonde, CUPFA invited Julius Grey to speak on the panel. He is the human rights lawyer currently representing McGill Professor Ahmed Fekry Ibrahim, who is attempting to sue a student and another professor for voicing their concerns that Ibrahim had behaved inappropriately towards students. Grey’s presence derailed what could have been a productive conversation at the panel into a debate questioning whether the #metoo movement “had gone too far” and if Statistics Canada is lying about their data on false rape accusations. This panel could have been relevant to our community concerns by having more in-depth conversations about student-professor power dynamics and the accompanying inherent risks.

C.A.S.E. chooses to connect these two events because we recognize that our institution’s current system for representing survivors of sexual violence and preventing the abuse of students is broken. The institution’s lengthy system for filing complaints lacks transparency and advocacy for complainants. This contradicts claims that Concordia believes survivors and undermines trust in campus programs like the Sexual Assault Resource Centre. Resolving these kinds of policy issues in universities like Concordia, while still protecting labor rights, was the kind of conversation that should have been presented at last week’s CUPFA panel. Instead, it wasted the opportunity to discuss issues that are crucial to student safety and well-being, as well as demonstrated the imbalanced priorities of an organization meant to protect precariously employed people.

We are deeply concerned at the direction CUPFA chose to take the panel and believe that they are invested in protecting the reputation of faculty over the safety of students. We are disappointed. The events of the past year have already fractured the relationship between students and faculty in the English and Creative Writing Department. Concordia continues to assist in alienating and endangering students when their complaint process lacks transparency and student representation.

The Concordia Association for Students in English is troubled by the fact that the responsibility of calling out inappropriate behaviour and abuse within our classrooms and campus community continually falls on the shoulders of individual students. We cannot continue to bear this weight. We’re tired of witnessing its effects on our members. We will be working over the next few months to provide support for our students.

We are calling to action the other members of our community, like CUPFA, Concordia University, and individual faculty and staff members of these institutions. Students need to see real action that demonstrates support for believing survivors and building networks that prevent the abuse of power dynamics.

We invite students, community organizations, staff, faculty and alumnus to sign on in support of this letter to acknowledge that:

  • The complaint system at Concordia, and the legislation that supports its silence, is broken.
  • Policies at Concordia around complaints lack support or transparency for students and complainants, which is in direct opposition to the ideals of SARC.
  • Concordia must be changed to incorporate assistance for complainants in writing their formal grievances and provide the same kind of legal representation that accused professors and staff receive during an investigation.
  • CUPFA needs to clarify their relationship with Julius Grey and whether he has represented members of their association, in the past or present.
  • CUPFA must apologize for misrepresenting the intent of its Sexual Misconduct panel and for silencing voices of its audience by not allowing a question period afterwards.
  • Concordia needs to publicly apologize to past and present English and Creative Writing students that have been put at risk for, and experienced, sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of professors over the years.
  • CUPFA and Concordia, as institutions as well as its individuals, are responsible for changing the toxic community by implementing bystander intervention policies. They must promote responsibility between faculty to hold one other accountable to community standards and communicating those standards to their students.
  • Professors must commit to explicitly setting standards of behaviour for themselves and students in their classrooms.
  • Concordia staff and faculty should be directly asking for bystander intervention expectations and training that relates to their department, to prepare them to intervene.
  • Concordia needs to provide an explanation for the delay in the English and Creative Writing Climate Review, as well as set a specific deadline for its public release of recommendations.
  • Concordia, CUPFA, and the English Department must regularly update students and the public about its actions towards implementing these necessary changes.

Follow this link to sign on and agree to the contents of our statement, including the demands. The demands and the signatures will be sent to CUPFA, Concordia University’s President, and the English Department.

We encourage our students to contact case.president@asfa.ca to discuss any changes they would like to see on this list of demands as well as types of support they would like to see.

C.A.S.E. Statement (1)

Thank you,
Concordia Association for Students in English

Advertisements

CASE & QWF Panel with Tara Johns, Rahul Varma, and Sean Michaels

Doors Open: 6 pm
Panel Discussion: 630 – 730 pm
Refreshments: 730 – 9 pm
MB-9AB, (John Molson School of Business, 9th Floor)
Concordia University, 1450 rue Guy

What does a professional writing career look like in the 21st century? How we do explore and sustain and juggle different roles? What’s out there?

CASE Concordia and the Quebec Writers’ Federation have teamed up to bring together three Quebec-based writers with very different career profiles: screenwriter and filmmaker Tara Johns (The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom), Giller-Prize-winning novelist, blogger, and interactive digital fiction writer Sean Michaels (Us Conductors), and playwright and artistic director ofTeesri Duniya theatre company Rahul Varma (Truth and Treason, Bhopal, State of Denial). We’ll talk about switching up professions and disciplines, as well as writing in the digital age. Come query them on how they did – and are doing – it!

This event is free and open to Concordia students, as well as QWF Student Members. Concordia students, reserve tickets with your student ID number at case.president@asfa.ca. QWF student members, email rachel@qwf.org to reserve a place.

https://www.facebook.com/events/515409245616935/

 

Join the L.U.C.C. Vetting Committee!

Sailing News

After last year’s seventh successful Literature Undergraduate Colloquium at Concordia (L.U.C.C.), we would like to invite students to apply to our vetting team for our eighth edition!

The vetting process will begin in February 2019 but applications must be submitted to case.academic@asfa.ca by Friday, November 16th at 11:59 pm. When applying, please include a brief cover letter detailing who you are, your qualifications, and why you’re interested in being part of our team. Students are encouraged to include their academic and extracurricular history that might relate to their qualifications for this position. Depending on the number of applications, you may be asked to review a short sample paper to show your familiarity with academic essays.
Continue reading “Join the L.U.C.C. Vetting Committee!”

Defamation law in Quebec – RadLaw

As a follow up to the Legal Workshop we organized on February 15th, @RadLawMcGill has shared with us the notes relevant to defamation law in Quebec. If you have additional questions, please let us know and we will gladly relay them to RadLaw. Please note that this document is not intended to provide legal advice, but rather to dispense legal information.

Writers Read at Concordia presents Deirdre Madden!

Writers Read at Concordia presents Deirdre Madden!
Award-Winning Irish Novelist Gives Public Reading at Concordia

WHEN: Friday, October 10, 2014 at 7PM
WHERE: Concordia University (Room H-767, Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West, 7th floor)

In our first major event of the 2014/2015 season, Writers Read at Concordia is proud to welcome award-winning Irish novelist Deirdre Madden for a public reading on Friday, October 10, 2014 at 7PM at Concordia University (Room H-767, Hall Building, 1455 de Maisonneuve West, 7th floor). Writers Read has hosted authors including Lydia Davis, Roddy Doyle and Mary Gaitskill. Our 2014/2015 season includes a special celebration of Quebec Women’s Writing featuring Nicole Brossard, Gail Scott, Lisa Robertson and Rachel Levitsky, as well as readings by Gary Geddes, Lynn Coady, Brenda Hillman and Robert Hass as well as a few surprise guests for day time events.

Deirdre Madden studied at Trinity College in Dublin and the University of East Anglia. She has published eight novels, including The Birds of The Innocent Wood, One by One in the Darkness, Authenticity and Molly Fox’s Birthday. Her awards include the Hennessy Award, the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Rooney Prize and the Kerry Book of the Year Award. She has been shortlisted twice for the Orange Prize. Her most recent novel, Time Present and Time Past was published in 2013. She teaches Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin.

See you there!

Call for Writers!

CALL FOR WRITERS:
Romeo Gongora is looking for English-language poets, writers, and story-tellers to share their work in the context of this inter-disciplinary exhibition, Just Watch Me, an exhibition that examines the geopolitical spaces of Quebec’s identities.

This would take the form of a performative/participative reading. Some key words for themes: identity, collectivity, society.

The project, inspired by artistic collectives emerging from the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, aims to convert the gallery space into a place for social exchange, and will feature a variety of events such as workshops, conferences, screenings, and poetry readings.

The series will take place every Friday, between 16h30-17h30 (September 12th, 19th, 26th and October 3rd, 10th) at the Ellen and Bina Leonard Gallery.

Writers should send a sample of their work and a brief bio to info@romeogongora.com for more information.

This reading series is organized by La Tournure, an independant publishing collective. For more information on the group, please consult their website athttp://latournure.org/

ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Romeo Gongora is a Canadian-Guatemalan artist whose practice centers
on the social. He works in an interdisciplinary form, combining
performance, cinema, installation and text, where exchange with
stakeholders (artists, historians, sociologists, etc.) are essential
to the creative process.

ABOUT THE EXHIBITION:
Just Watch Me is an exhibition that examines the geopolitical spaces
of Quebec’s identities. Focusing on dialogue and collective creation,
the work makes a critical analysis of the relationship between
culture, economy, the state, and artistic collectives that marked the
province’s Quiet Revolution (1965-1972): Mousse Pacthèque, Nouvel-Age,
Fusion des Arts, etc. The project aims to convert the gallery space
into a place for social exchange, and will feature a variety of
events such as workshops, conferences, screenings, and poetry
readings.