Students heading for classes at the University of Manitoba on Wednesday were greeted with word that there are currently five investigations at the institution into alleged sexual assaults and harassment, all involving faculty members.
U of M president David Barnard also issued an apology to students who have experienced assaults or harassment on campus, saying he’s committed to mandatory education on sexual violence, consent and power relationships for faculty, staff and students.
A statement from Barnard says community meetings will be held to review and update the university’s sexual assault, respectful work and learning environment policies.
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The university says that of the five investigations, one involves sexual assault and personal harassment, another involves sexual assault and sexual harassment, a third surrounds sexual harassment, and the other two pertain to human rights complaints.
Barnard says these cases have forced the university to pause and reaffirm its commitment to a culture where sexual assault and sexual harassment are not acceptable.
The university has also launched a video that introduces students to sexual consent and sexual violence.
“Inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus is unacceptable, and, quite honestly, I find such conduct to be horrible and appalling,” Barnard said in his statement. “Today, I am apologizing to students who have experienced such inappropriate behaviour. I am deeply sorry.”
Susan Gottheil, vice-provost for students, said the university will be delivering presentations to graduate and international students as well, while support services for students on campus will be increased.
“Counselling staff are embedded within faculties. More staff have been employed in our human rights and conflict management office, and we’re bringing more of our off-campus partners on site,” she said.
Students who are looking for more details on available resources related to sexual violence can go to the U of M website.