Brock cancels course to be taught by professor disciplined for sexual harassment
David Schimmelpenninck was supposed to return after an almost 3-year absence
Brock University has cancelled a history course that was to be taught by a professor who was disciplined following a sexual harassment investigation.
David Schimmelpenninck was scheduled to teach a non-compulsory second-year course during the Winter 2019 term following an almost three-year absence from the classroom. The absence was a result of discipline following an investigation into sexual harassment, the university confirmed to CBC News.
A statement issued by the university Wednesday said the decision to cancel the course was a personnel matter and Brock would not be commenting further.
"The university takes very seriously the right of every member of the Brock community to work and study in a respectful and safe environment," the statement added.
"Brock will be accelerating the previously scheduled review of its Sexual Violence and Harassment Policy."
'Unwelcome sexual advance'
The sexual harassment finding against Schmimmelpenninck dates back to an incident in October 2014, when the professor met his students at the local campus bar after his class for drinks.
After the bar closed, he invited a female student and another male student back to his office for more alcohol.
According to the investigation, the male student eventually went home, leaving the female student alone with the professor.
"It was after my friend left that he shut the door and came and sat next to me and that's when the incident occurred," the woman told CBC News in 2016.
The university conducted an investigation into the matter and hired a lawyer.
The lawyer's investigation found that the incident "involved an unwelcome sexual advance, inappropriate and unwelcome physical touching, comments of a sexual nature, [and] a provocative comment attempting to arrange ongoing intimacy."
Professor regrets 'serious' mistakes
Schimmelpenninck sent a statement to CBC News saying he regretted his past behaviour.
"If I could undo it, and the harm I caused, I absolutely would," he wrote. "I made serious mistakes and the university has disciplined me for them. I know that some people will never accept me back at the school."
He also told CBC News he had a "drinking problem" for a long time but had gotten help and stopped drinking completely.
"Over the past three years, I have worked very hard to address my problems and done everything the university has asked of me."
Schimmelpenninck was set to begin teaching again after a Dec. 14 decision from an arbitrator who concluded the professor should be permitted to return to the classroom, "pursuant to the university's collective agreement with its faculty association," the university's administration said in a statement emailed to CBC on Jan. 3.
The email aslo said the professor has agreed to a set of conditions "including completing coaching for respectful workplace practices."
Rallies and petition call for prof to resign
A rally against Schimmelpenninck's return is scheduled to take place at the university Thursday afternoon.
Students have also issued a list of demands to the university and a petition calling for Schimmelpenninck to resign immediately has been signed by more than 1,000 people.
"For the safety of all students, faculty and staff, it is crucial that Schimmelpenninck immediately resign from Brock University," it reads. "We will not let individuals who have a history of committing sexual violence get away with their actions."
In the statement it released Wednesday the university said it respects students and individuals who had expressed their views about Schimmelpenninck's return to teaching in a "constructive and thoughtful manner."
with files from Laura Clementson