By Marwa Kotb.
“Sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other forms of violence committed by college instructors and professors against their students are becoming more frequent in Canada” (http://www.sexassault.ca/teacher.htm). I found a recent CBC News article on a sexual harassment incident that occurred in Brock University in southern Ontario where a female student complained that her history professor, David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye “gave her alcohol and forced himself on her sexually “ (Sawa& Ward, 2016, March 11) in his office. During an internal investigation conducted by a lawyer hired by the university, the professor admitted that “he too drunk to remember what had occurred” (Sawa& Ward, 2016, March 11). The investigation found that the incident involved sexual harassment and the professor is not anymore in campus. The most disappointing point in the story that the student wasn’t allowed to talk about the incident or share the results of investigation. Brock University president Jack Lightstone commented that the university has an obligation of keeping its professor’s records confidential (Sawa& Ward, March 11). The university behavior is common in many institutes across the world. When their professors are accused of misconduct, they put their institutes’ reputations in favour of their students’ safety and rights.
Most sexual violations happen when professors force an intimate relationship with their students outside of the classroom. As the professors are in positions of power, students welcome the relationship even if they don’t want it reminding themselves of the professor’s grading authority. In such circumstances, some professors make sexual advances towards students. Unfortunately studies show that sexual assault and harassment committed by professors are “notoriously underreported” (McLaughlin, 2015, February 18). Victims fear shame and embarrassment from their family and friends, and they don’t have a proof of the evidence and expect that no action will be taken by their institutes’ administrators (McLaughlin, 2015, February 18).
It’s quite demolishing when that take place in the freest countries of the world. The US Justice Department report ”indicated that fewer than 5% of sexual assaults were reported” (McLaughlin, 2015, February 18). Even any sort of sexual violence incidents that happen in universities’ and colleges’ campuses are rarely reported. The result of a student survey at the University of Ottawa is that “44 percent of female students experienced some form of sexual violence while attending the university.” (Sawa & Ward, 2015, February 6). “Yet the CBC News survey shows that over the course of five years, only 10 students reported an assault to the University of Ottawa” (Sawa & Ward, 2015, February 6).
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said “A rapist’s best friend is silence”. (Kane, 2016, March 17), Thus it’s time for higher education institutes across the world to act differently, and create policies that favour students’ safety and support the existence of a more transparent environment. At this point only, students will feel safe enough to come forward and speak up about a professors’ sexual conduct which in turn will lead to an increase in the number of students reporting and a decrease of these shameful incidents.
Kane L.(2016, March 17).Clark vows legislation to better protect students from sexual assault. The Province. Retrieved from http://www.theprovince.com/news/clark+vows+legislation+better+protect+students+from+sexual+assault/11790347/story.html
McLaughlin. M.(2015, February 18). We have data on the number of sexual assaults reported at each Canadian university. Now what?.Academica Forum. Retrieved from http://forum.academica.ca/forum/we-have-data-on-the-number-of-sexual-assaults-reported-at-each-canadian-university-now-what
Sawa , T.& Ward, L. (2015, February 6). Sex assault reporting on Canadian campuses worryingly low, say experts : CBC News contacted 87 university and major colleges across Canada to request data. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sex-assault-reporting-on-canadian-campuses-worryingly-low-say-experts-1.2948321
Sawa , T.& Ward, L. (2016, March 11). CBC Investigates Brock University tells student to keep quiet about sexual harassment finding. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/brock-university-sexual-harrassment-1.3485814