Concordia Investigates Sexual Misconduct Allegations in Creative Writing Program

‘No Comment’ on Suspending Faculty Allegedly Involved

Concordia President Alan Shepard refused to release details of the investigation of the alleged sexual misconduct in the unviersity’s creative writing program. Photo Brian Lapuz

Concordia University President Alan Shepard refused to disclose whether professors allegedly involved in rampant sexual misconduct in the university’s creative writing program have been suspended from their teaching positions.

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“I feel confident that the environment that we have in our university and departments is safe,” said Shepard at a press conference on Wednesday, when asked how he can reassure students who may be in classes with implicated professors.

Due to the confidential nature of the investigations, Shepard would not comment on specific names that have been circulating on social media.
Rather, the president who has been with the university since 2012, said simply that an investigation has been launched and that Concordia’s administration will be conducting meetings with faculty, staff and students in the program.

Concordia is also forming a new group to continue addressing sexual violence on campus. Shepard said Concordia’s work on the subject has been ongoing since 2014. The group, which will be lead by Deputy Provost Lisa Ostiguy, will focus on integrating requirements made in the provincial government’s new law, Bill 151, intended to addresses sexual violence in post-secondary institutions.

“We’ve been working since 2014 to ensure a safe climate,” said Shepard, explaining that the previous working group, also led by Ostiguy, was proactive. This group, he said, will look across the whole institution to ensure that Concordia is “in full compliance with Quebec’s new law.”

Concordia’s ‘Open Secret’

When asked why the university only began investigations “ when a white man comes forward, ” Shepard responded that it was only then, on Monday, that he learned about the “open secret.”

Former students, including Montreal author Heather O’Neill, told the CBC that many involved with the program were aware of the misconduct taking place. “Everybody knows” O’Neill said.

“It was not an open secret to me,” responded Shepard. “If I had been aware, I would have acted sooner.”