By: Bryce Doiron
Emma McGee is not impressed with her school right now.
St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia came under fire recently after a student charged with sexual assault was allowed to return to campus and continue his program.
“I am disappointed in St. FX for letting him return, for not telling the girl and for us, the student population, to find out about this incident through the media. Disgusted by the university’s actions,” said McGee, a Stanley Bridge, P.E.I. native frustrated by the school’s lack of communication to its students.
“What we learned from the media was that he returned this year, without notifying the girl. She left the university distraught and that is why we are upset.”
McGee was part of a protest demonstrating the frustrations some students felt with the university’s handling of the case.
A meeting was set up by history professor Chris Fraser to discuss what actions could be taken to demonstrate their frustrations, said McGee.
“There was about 25 of us at the meeting where we discussed what we could do, that we were not going to let this be blown over,” said the second-year human kinetics student.
The group met up during the school’s open house and confronted school president Kent MacDonald while he was addressing high school students and their parents.
“We wanted to be peaceful and knew that if the university or security fought back in the gym, it would look very bad on them.”
The group entered the gym from all sides and linked arms in front of the president while one student stated why the group was present using a megaphone.
Then the students recited the six things they want the university to do.
They include the woman being protected and informed the entire time, having decision makers educated on sexual violence and a financial commitment to sexual violence prevention.
They also demanded the university have a communication plan to inform the campus when such situations happen and a revision of the sexual violence policy.
The group is still waiting to hear from St. FX.
“We will not be successful until action is taken,” said McGee.
This situation has been causing discussion at UPEI.
“It is a very unfortunate situation for all parties to have, the survivor, the respondent and the university,” said Emma Drake, Vice-President Academic and External of the UPEISU.
“The best approach a university can take is a survivor-centric approach to ensure things like this do not happen.”
Drake couldn’t say exactly what would happen if a similar incident unfolded at UPEI, but taking the right approach and good communication can go a long way.
“It can help avoid administrative-induced trauma.”