Students and staff at the University of Ottawa have put together a task force of their own in response to two recent sexual misconduct scandals, calling the administration's response a "PR stunt."

Graduate student Seamus Wolfe said the Independent Initiative Against Rape Culture was created because many of his peers don't have confidence in the administration's own task force announced last week.

"What we would like to do is not to see some sort of PR stunt by the university but rather a widespread participatory and deep discussion that happens on this campus," he said. "To make sure that everybody — professors, staff, students —have a chance to direct this task force, to engage in this task force, and to really make sure we collectively come up with a set of recommendations and tools to combat rape culture on our campus."

He said the task for has the support of more than 200 people both on and off campus. A town hall meeting will be held on March 21.

seamus wolfe rape culture University of Ottawa

University of Ottawa graduate student Seamus Wolfe announced a task force on rape culture, calling the administration's response to two sexual misconduct scandals a "PR stunt." (CBC)

"We are united against the culture of rape that is happening, that is pervasive in our society and especially, as we've seen recently, on our campus," Wolfe said. "This work happens on a day-to-day basis and it is not simply going to stop because the university has all of a sudden woken up to a PR nightmare."

uOttawa president calls scandals 'repugnant'

University of Ottawa president Allan Rock announced last week a new "Task Force on Respect and Equality" will report back in the fall with specific recommendations on how to promote respectful behaviour on campus. 

Rock made the announcement following what he described as two "repugnant" scandals.

In one incident, the leader of the student federation spoke out against "rape culture" on campus after she was the target of a sexually explicit online chat. Anne-Marie Roy received a copy of the private Facebook chat between five male students in an anonymous email. Four were student leaders, and they resigned from their positions.

While students were already discussing "rape culture" on campus, the university announced on March 3 that the men's hockey program was being suspended over allegations that several players sexually assaulted a woman during a team trip to Thunder Bay.