U of Manitoba seeks feedback on sexual harassment policy

The University of Manitoba is asking students and staff for feedback on its sexual harassment and work environment policies this week.

Message from university president follows CBC investigation into allegations against former prof Steve Kirby

The University of Manitoba reviews its sexual harassment and workplace behaviour policies every three years, officials say. (James Teterenko/Wikimedia Commons)

The University of Manitoba is asking students and staff for feedback on its sexual harassment and work environment policies after sexual harassment allegations against a professor came to light this week.

Jazz professor Steve Kirby left the University of Manitoba after an internal investigation report found he repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted sexual contact with a female student. (CBC)
University president David Barnard wrote a message Friday, emailed to all students and staff and posted on the university's website, regarding the U of M's behavioural policies. 

On Wednesday, a CBC I-Team investigation revealed that jazz professor Steve Kirby had left the university after an internal investigation report found he repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments and unwanted sexual contact with a female student.

The student was critical of the university and said she was "angry" over how the internal investigation into her allegations was handled, saying it didn't do enough to create a safe environment for female students.

David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba, sent a message to students Friday regarding the university's behavioural policies. (Mike Latschislaw/University of Manitoba)
She is part of a group of current and former students who made allegations of sexual misconduct against Kirby in February.  

U of M executive director of public affairs John Danakas said the message references both the university's Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy and its Sexual Assault Policy 

Barnard wrote about the importance of building a culture of consent, respect, trust and inclusivity in the message. 

"As has occurred recently, the effectiveness of our policies will attract scrutiny," Barnard wrote, adding that he could not speak to specific cases. 

"Feedback from individuals involved directly in incidents, especially feedback from complainants, is always valued and will inform revisions, which will be undertaken every three years," he wrote. 

The policies were revised in 2016 and will be revised again in 2019, Danakas said via email, adding that Barnard sent the message "to add perspective to current conversations." 
A former University of Manitoba jazz student is angry with the way the university handled an internal investigation into Prof. Steve Kirby's conduct, and says it didn't do enough to create a safe environment for female students. 3:29

Barnard ended the message by stating that during Homecoming Week celebrations, it's also important to "remind ourselves of our pledge to build a community together ... assured of our safety, inclusion and respect." 

On Thursday, the U.S. college Kirby now works for said he has been placed on leave while it conducts its own investigation. 

CBC has not been able to reach Kirby for comment.

With files from Vera-Lynn Kubinec