Concordia Considering Online Consent Training For Students

Demands of Provincial Legislation Poses a “Big Logistics Challenge”

  • Other parts of the legislation enforce that universities and CEGEPs adhere to certain standards in their sexual violence policies, and that they establish clear guidelines on consensual instructor and student relationships. File Photo Brian Lapuz

Concordia University is considering online consent training to meet the demands of upcoming provincial legislation.

According to Bill 151–the Act to Prevent and Fight Sexual Violence in Higher Education Institutions–all university and CEGEP students will be required to take on training to address sexual violence by January 2019.

“I still think that face to face training is a good way to go, but how do you organize 48,000 [students] to do that? So there probably will be some online component for sure,” Shepard said in a recent interview with The Link

While the school is still waiting on concrete recommendations from the provincial government on how to adhere to the legislation, Shepard said the demand poses a “big logistics challenge” for the school.

“We have already the curriculum, we already know what we want to teach people,” Shepard said. “[But how do you] certify that they’ve actually done the training?”

For varsity teams and students in Concordia’s residences consent training has already became mandatory, while voluntary training for groups is also available through the Sexual Assault Resource Centre.

Other parts of the legislation enforce that universities and CEGEPs adhere to certain standards in their sexual violence policies, and that they establish clear guidelines on consensual instructor and student relationships.

Shepard announced investigations into Concordia’s creative writing program at a press conference in January. File Photo Brian Lapuz

Concordia updated their policy on student-instructor relationships this January, after graduate Mike Spry released a widely circulated article alleging he’d witnessed a culture of professors having inappropriate relationships with female students and writers in Concordia’s creative writing program.

Though not specifically established with the mandate to prepare the school for Bill 151, Concordia’s task force on sexual misconduct has been studying consent training and reviewing the school’s policies on sexual violence and its processes for responding to complaints. Their final report and recommendations are expected to be finished this June.

Pending Investigations Still Underway

Two investigations into the program were also launched in January. The investigation assigned to study the culture within the program began in April, and Shepard said the findings are expected to be public by the fall.

That investigation is being led by retired Quebec Court of Appeal judge Honourable Justice Pierrette Rayle and SPB Organizational Psychology–an HR company that helps “enterprises achieve their business goals while optimizing their HR management.”

A third party investigation into professors who were later revealed by the CBC to be David McGimpsey and Jon Paul Fiorentino is still underway, and results will be kept confidential.

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