UBC sex assault complainant filing human rights grievance
UBC says its report into the handling of the allegations shows university officials acted in good faith
One of the complainants in a UBC sex assault investigation says she will be filing a human rights complaint against the university, despite findings the institution acted in "good faith."
Glynnis Kirchmeier is one of several current and former graduate students in the university's history department who alerted university officials to allegations of sexual harassment by a male PhD candidate
UBC hired independent lawyer Paula Butler to investigate criticism raised by the complainants that it took far too long to act on multiple allegations against the student — complaints exposed in an investigation by CBC's the fifth estate.
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Kirchmeier says she's glad to see the political will to move the issue forward at the university, but she's taking matters into her own hands in the meantime.
"Rather than trusting the internal politics of the university, I'm filing an external human rights complaint because that's a process that's accountable to somebody else outside the university," she said.
"Given the history of the university, I can't just assume that they would take this report to heart and use it to change policy."
The report's findings show the university acted in "good faith" and there was no breach of the university's policies. In her report, Butler said there was a delay because of a lack of clarity around the process for reporting and responding to assaults.
Complainants not told of report's release
Kirchmeier says the report's findings the university followed procedure didn't come as a surprise to her.
However, what did come as a surprise was the report itself: she says she wasn't informed it was being released on Monday. Another alleged victim told CBC News she found out about the report's release on Twitter.
"They have not agreed to give it to me as a participant," Kirchmeier said.
Sara-Jane Finlay, UBC's associate vice-president of equity and inclusion, said the university cannot release the full report because of confidentiality issues.
"The full report has a great deal of private information," she said.
University acted in 'good faith'
Finlay emphasized the report's findings that the university acted in good faith.
"Although there were some concerns raised about human error, ultimately her feeling was that people were trying to do the right thing," Finlay said.
The fifth estate investigation was the first to report the students' allegations of inaction by the university, detailing it was a least 18 months before anything was done.
However, Butler's report called that time frame "misleading," because in one case a formal complaint was not made until almost a year after the assault allegation was raised.
But, as the fifth estate reported at the time, various students began approaching top officials at UBC with their allegations of sexual assault at least as far back as a year-and-a half before any action was taken.
However, an executive summary of the university's own report points out that the UBC Harassment and Discrimination Policy "does not explain the difference between a formal and informal complaint."
Finlay said university officials will take the report's findings seriously.
"Her findings around delay and clarity will be central to the policy development process and our action plan," she said.
UBC says a draft of the sexual assault policy they are working on is expected to be prepared by June.
- This article has been amended to clarify that Glynnis Kirchmeier alerted UBC about allegations concerning a male PhD student but was not herself sexually assaulted.Feb 16, 2016 9:21 AM PT
With files from Brenna Rose and Canadian Press