In the midst of rolling out community consultations for SFU’s new standalone sexual assault policy, reports have emerged that this past year that administration may have mishandled sexual assault allegations from three students against a male student in residence. The mishandling could implicate the top levels of administration including President Andrew Petter, VP Academic Jon Driver, and Associate VP Students Tim Rahilly.
The first individual alleges she was raped by the male student in October of 2015 while living in residence, according to The Vancouver Sun. The second alleges a sexual assault happened during the Christmas Break outside of campus.
Both students withdrew from classes shortly thereafter. It was in February of this year that the mother of one of the individuals wrote to President Petter to bring his attention to the issue. However, it was not until April that the mother met with several members of the administration.
What was the administration’s response?
It was reported by the Sun that the male student was moved to another residence — according to some reports, to an even larger room. Kurt Heinrich, a spokesperson for the university, told The Peak that the university conducted a safety assessment “in conjunction with the RCMP.”
Heinrich emphasized that the male student in question was no longer on campus, but would not say whether that was due to university action or some other reason. It is unclear whether the student is still enrolled in the institution.
He would also not get into the specifics of any other measures taken by the university, despite saying to The Peak, “We’re doing our best [to be] as transparent as we can.”
Several friends of the survivors have claimed that the university has encouraged them to keep quiet about the allegations. They also claimed that they have been physically threatened by the accused student’s friends.
What are they saying now?
As of now, Petter, Driver, and Rahilly have all declined to comment.
The Peak questioned Heinrich about why the university’s legal counsel was present at the April meeting if not to protect the university from liability. Heinrich said “that wasn’t necessarily the case,” but wouldn’t say why Li-Jeen Broshko, the lawyer, was present.
Heinrich refused to comment on many aspects of the story, including two of the female individuals withdrawing from classes, citing privacy concerns and a wish to not interfere with the ongoing RCMP investigation.
Said the Teaching Staff and Support Union (TSSU) in a statement made available to The Peak, “The SFU Senior Administration needs to take responsibility for their decades of inaction and start being part of the solution rather than silently perpetuating injustice.”
The Peak will update the story as more information becomes available.