A former VIU staff member lodged a human rights complaint against the university, alleging female staff members and students were placed at risk of sexual harassment by a male student. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Student’s alleged sexual role-plays lead to human rights complaint against VIU

Nanaimo university says it took appropriate actions to respond to sexual harassment concerns

A former VIU staff member lodged a human rights complaint against the university, alleging female staff members and students were placed at risk of sexual harassment by a male student.

According to an article Monday in the Globe and Mail, female staff and students were sexually harassed by a male student whose “fetishistic behaviour in and out of the classroom” included role-playing that he was an infant, wearing a soother and talking like a baby.

The article identifies the complainant as Katrin Roth, former director of human rights and respectful workplace at Vancouver Island University.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did not allow a complaint from “K.R.” to proceed this summer, but she was given additional time to amend her complaint, according to a screening decision written by Diana Juricevic, tribunal chairwoman.

According to the decision, the complainant said she became aware in November 2016 that the harassment had been taking place over a two-year period.

“She describes that conduct as: sending sexually suggestive photos to women, writing in an ‘explicit, sexually exhibitionistic manner,’ following women to isolated areas, asking women out on dates repeatedly, leering and staring at women, and making women feel unsafe,” the decision noted. “She says there were instances where the student ‘pretended to seek routine services but then proceeded to surprise and involve non-consenting women in sexually arousing fantasies and role plays.’”

Juricevic wrote that the central allegations of K.R.’s complaint are that the university “failed to undertake a prompt, thorough and fair investigation or to follow its human rights and prevention of harassment policies and procedures,” but noted that the complaint “does not allege sufficient facts” and isn’t specific enough in identifying the women whose human rights are alleged to have been violated.

VIU responded to the Globe article on Monday with a statement released on behalf of Ralph Nilson, university president.

“We are … confident the university took appropriate and reasonable actions to respond to concerns that were raised and to protect the safety and well-being of our campus community,” Nilson wrote. “This matter was carefully and thoughtfully investigated by an experienced and legally trained external investigator who determined that actions of the university were reasonable.”

Nilson’s statement went on to disagree with Roth’s allegations as reported in the Globe article, saying that “due to privacy law, Ms. Roth has not been privy to all of the complexities at issue in this case, nor is she aware of all of the steps that were taken to investigate and respond to these concerns.”

Roth’s employment at the university was terminated in January 2017.

Melissa Stephens, the VIU Faculty Association’s status of women representative, wrote and released a statement Monday on social media condemning all forms of harassment.

“At a time when women, in particular, are speaking out against sexual violence and receiving backlash from people who question their credibility, VIUFA recognizes the personal and professional risks that survivors take when disclosing or reporting such information,” she wrote. “Our faculty should expect and promote a workplace culture in which survivors can be heard and believed … It is never acceptable to enable others to commit acts of sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere.”



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prescribed burn for the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

Between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9, if and when site and weather conditions become favourable.

Business notes: Cowichan Valley Wine Festival deemed a success this year

Here are some of the notable things happening in Cowichan’s business community

Motorists should expect periodic delays and detours on Chemainus and River Roads

Work on corridor upgrade project to intensify in the weeks ahead

Cowichan Valley residents can help mark World Alzheimer’s Month

Two-part online discussion series called “Demystifying advocacy” on Sept. 28 and 29

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

NDP, Greens divided on pace of child care improvements in B.C. election campaign

NDP Leader John Horgan recommitted to $10-a-day child care and blamed the Greens for not supporting his efforts

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Island RCMP remind drivers not to text after 19 tickets handed out in 90 minutes

The $368 fines were handed out Tuesday on Norwell Drive and Old Island Highway in Nanaimo

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Three years for serial bank robber who hit southern Vancouver Island branch

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Most Read