UPDATED: Concordia Students, Staff Invited to Join Task Force on Sexual Misconduct

Deadline Extended, University Accused of Rushing Without Consulting Students

The task force will present preliminary recommendations based off their consultations in May. Photo Brian Lapuz

Concordia students, staff, and faculty are invited to apply to the university’s new Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence.

This article has been updated.

An email sent out Thursday afternoon signed by Deputy Provost Lisa Ostiguy, who is also the chair of the task force, explained that the group’s job will be to meet with “members of the community and to review policies and processes,” to ensure that Concordia is a “respectful and safe environment.”

In order to do so, the email says the task force will be inviting groups from across campus to provide written feedback, in addition to face-to-face consultations—the details for which have yet to be released.

While all are encouraged to apply, the final group will consist of 12 members, including Ostiguy, Vice-Provost of Faculty Relations Nadia Hardy, and Concordia’s senior legal counsel, Melodie Sullivan. The other nine spots will go to:

  • Two undergraduate students,
  • Two graduate students,
  • One part-time and one full-time professor,
  • Two staff members, and
  • One external member.

The email also says that eligible applicants will be reviewed by Ostiguy, Hardy, and Sullivan. It does not specify who the external member will be.

In an interview Thursday morning, Concordia President Alan Shepard told The Link that task force is expected to present their preliminary findings at the May senate meeting. Senate is the university’s highest academic decision-making body. The final iteration of the group’s report is expected be ready a month later, in June.

But Concordia Student Union councillor Sophie Hough-Martin said that the task force feels rushed. She continued that there hasn’t been enough talks with students or student groups and that elected student representatives should be kept in the loop.

“I don’t feel that they have consulted with student organizations adequately,” Hough-Martin said. “I think they’re really trying to rush this through.”

Prior to issuing the call out for applicants, Shepard did say that the university is trying to move quickly with the task force but also that they want to give the Concordia community enough time process what is happening and come forward with recommendations.

“It’s a balancing act,” Shepard said.

The CSU has since called this application process illegal, saying that it violates the Act Respecting the Accreditation and Financing of Student Associations. The law says that only accredited student associations, in this case the CSU, has the right to appoint students to university bodies.

The president announced the creation of the task force at a press conference on Jan. 10, just two days after a blog post accusing professors in the university’s Creative Writing program of sexual misconduct went viral. In the weeks since, many alumni have come forward, predominantly on social media, with their own stories of abuse of power and harassment by university faculty.

While Shepard kept quiet on details of the investigation at first, the Concordia Association for Students in English later revealed that the professors at the centre of the allegations were no longer teaching courses and that the investigation is being handled by an external group.

Those interested in joining the task force have until Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. to submit their applications, following a deadline extension. Undergraduate students must currently be registered, have completed a minimum of 30 credits, and be in good academic standing, the email explains.

An application form can be found here.

Want to know more about what’s happening? Read The Link’s coverage here: