Student union wants voice on Concordia's sexual misconduct task force

Concordia University is putting together a task force to prevent sexual violence and misconduct, but members of the student union aren't happy with how student representatives are being chosen to take part.

Task force will be set up weeks after misconduct allegations rocked English department

Leyla Sutherland, student life co-ordinator with the Concordia Student Union, says the group wants to choose the representatives who will sit on the task force. (CBC)

Members of Concordia's undergraduate student union say they aren't happy with how student representatives are being chosen for a university-wide task force to prevent sexual violence and misconduct on campus.

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is usually in charge of appointing students to sit on formal committees, but in this case, the university's administration is opting to appoint students without consultation.

"The university got to choose their administrators who sit on this committee, and we're just asking to do the same," said Leyla Sutherland, CSU student life co-ordinator.

She says the university hasn't provided a clear reason why it's appointing students — two undergraduate and two graduate — to the task force instead of going through the regular appointment procedure.

The Concordia University student union wants to choose its own representatives on the sexual misconduct prevention task force. (CBC)

A statement from the university said the task force is an ad hoc committee and is not subject to the standard procedure.

"We made an open call to all members of the community to apply to be on the task force. We did this to ensure that the task force includes diversity in its members," read the statement.

The statement also says Concordia needed to make sure all members are engaged with the subject, knowledgeable about existing policies and able to make the necessary time commitment.

The deadline for students to apply for a position on the task force is Feb. 8. 

The university says it has been in discussion with the CSU and will continue to work with it.

Misconduct on campus

The establishment of the task force comes in the wake of highly publicized allegations of sexual misconduct against some professors in the English department.

Sutherland says those allegations have some students feeling skeptical that the university has the tools it needs to deal with sexual misconduct on campus.

"We want students to know that they are not putting their name forward to an administration that may, at one point, have participated in silencing them, or who may have in some way been complicit."

With files from Kate McKenna