Letter: A Response to the Philosophy Department’s Sexual Misconduct Allegations

A Montreal Gazette article published on March 18 details the human rights case brought forward by a former student against Concordia University in regards to the sexual harassment directed towards her in 2009 by a tenured professor in the philosophy department, as well as its subsequent mishandling by the department and university.

The CBC and The Link have since published articles alluding to sexual misconduct by the same professor as recently as 2017.

The Graduate Philosophy Students’ Association expresses our support for the victims of these incidents and all sexual violence. We believe you. We condemn the behavior of the faculty member in question, every instance of sexual violence in our community and elsewhere, and the department’s failure to responsibly address the situation. Their failure to properly respond perpetuates an unsafe environment that has no place in academia.

We demand the suspension of classes currently held by the professor in question and transparency from the department and administration regarding any investigation.

The GPSA is also working to hold the department responsible for the safety and well-being of its students. We demand that the faculty receive training on handling students’ claims of sexual harassment and assault.

At the same time, we recognize that this problem is not confined to our department. To properly deal with these issues, systematic and structural change in Concordia’s administration is needed. We implore the university to make this training mandatory for all faculty. In the meantime, we call on faculty in every department to inform themselves through available avenues such as the Sexual Assault Resource Centre or the Gender Advocacy Centre.

We understand that these events can be stressful and traumatic to those both directly and tangentially involved in this process. You can find a list of resources on our website courtesy of the Student Association for Graduates in English and Concordia Association for Students in English: concordiasgpsa.wordpress.com.

We welcome all ideas on how we, the GPSA, should proceed in these matters. You can contact us at concordiaugpsa@gmail.com.

In solidarity,

The Graduate Philosophy Students’ Association