As the University of Manitoba welcomes 30,000 students to its campus for a new academic year, I wish each of our students a successful year.
I want to take this time to reiterate my commitment to a culture of respect, safety, consent and prevention - a place where we can all be comfortable and that we can all call home while we are here.
The University has been expanding our support services for students - both in how to identify and how to report any form of sexual violence. I am committed to mandatory education on sexual violence, consent and power relationships and will work with faculty, staff and students to ensure the appropriate levels of support and training are provided.
Incidents of inappropriate behaviour at this University have been reported and investigated over the last few years. Inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus is unacceptable, and, quite honestly, I find such conduct to be horrible and appalling.
Today, I am apologizing to students who have experienced such inappropriate behaviour.
I am deeply sorry.
My promise to you is that we will do everything possible to shape a safe and healthy environment, and we will deal expeditiously with all violations that are reported.
The Vice-Provost (Students), Susan Gottheil, has provided more detailshttp://news.umanitoba.ca/a-message-from-vice-provost-students-and-sexual-violence-resources-for-students around resources available to all members of our communityhttp://news.umanitoba.ca/educating-our-community-on-sexual-violence/.
I also want to provide a correction to the community of some recent statements:
In preparing for today's message, I discovered last Wednesday that we have issued letters of employment to individuals that contained more information than I consider appropriate. The document provided to Steve Kirby as a letter of employment - that I understood to be a mere chronology of his time at the University - in fact also included an outline of activities and achievements, that, though factual, could be construed as supportive. The inclusion of this material was a mistake that must not be repeated.
The letter in no way recommended him for any position.
So in the interest of disclosure and our commitment to move forward, I have released the letter to the media today.
When someone has left the University following an investigation where there have been violations found, I believe a letter of employment should simply state: the start date, end date and titles or roles that the person held.
To identify possible improvements, I am asking Donna Miller, QC, to co-lead a careful search and examination of our processes.
Donna Miller, an accomplished lawyer and passionate civil servant, is the first woman in Manitoba to become clerk of the province's Executive Council. She was appointed Queen's Counsel and she received the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Award for her contribution to public service.
We are in the process of confirming the other co-lead and will have more details soon.
I am specifically asking Ms. Miller to look at our policies, procedures and execution in such cases, and to provide us with a report on how we can do this better going forward. We will investigate how those accused and those found to be in violation are dealt with in terms of our contractual obligations, employment status, letters of employment, references, and so on.
Although I can't speak to specifics, I also want to tell you today that there are other investigations ongoing now. We are committed to due process and to protecting the confidentiality of those with the courage to come forward.
I am confident that when people are able to come forward and share their experiences confidentially and have them dealt with, we are all stronger for it.
These recent issues have caused us to pause and reaffirm our commitment to a culture where sexual harassment and sexual assault are not acceptable. We won't tolerate this on our campuses. I won't tolerate this on our campuses. I am committed to making this the University we all want it to be. And I look forward to your support in promoting this as a culture of respect, consent, safety and prevention.
David T. Barnard, O.M., Ph.D. President and Vice-Chancellor 202 Administration Building, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB R3T 2N2 Canada Office: +1-204-474-9345tel:%2B1-204-474-9345 FAX: +1-204-261-1318tel:%2B1-204-261-1318 Email: email@example.com:firstname.lastname@example.org