U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Director of the Student Rights Centre is holding Allan Rock to account for his "lip service" to sexual violence recommendations

We all remember the national media celebration of Rock's strategy apparently intended to avoid taking radical (to the root) steps to address sexual violence (LINK-CBC). And we recall student groups not being convinced of Rock's authenticity in this matter (LINK1)(LINK2)(LINK3). The student view of Rock is not surprising given his first-reaction hesitance and denial (LINK).

Well now the Director of the Student Rights Centre (of the Student Federation University of Ottawa) is holding Mr. Rock to account regarding what appears to have been an elaborate media and corporate-image management device?

This is the open letter that was sent to president Rock and to some twenty or so university executives and student media:

From: Mireille Gervais <director.src@sfuo.ca>
Date: Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 12:26 PM
Subject: Training regarding sexual violence on campus
To: [many]

Mr. Rock,

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, the staff at the Student Rights Centre of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SRC-SFUO) attended the training organized by the U of O regarding sexual violence on campus. As you know, this training, which was delivered by the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, was offered in an effort to implement some of the recommendations made in the Report of the Task Force on Respect and Equality: Ending Sexual Violence at the University of Ottawa (the Report). Specifically, the Report called for better leadership commitment, including mandatory training to all members of the senior administration: 

“We recommend that the University demonstrate its commitment to preventing sexual violence and promoting a culture of respect and equality by providing mandatory training to all members of the senior administration, including the deans, vice-deans and chief administrative officers of all ten faculties, on the nature and causes of, and solutions to, the issue of sexual violence, before the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year” (section 6.2) 

The training we attended was scheduled for two hours, which in fact was not a sufficient amount of time to go through all the material that had been foreseen.

I have been informed that you, however, along with the other members of the upper administration as well as the deans, intend to receive a shortened version of this training, to last one hour, in November. 

In my opinion, this does not illustrate better leadership commitment on the part of the university administration. This is particularly worrying considering that in many cases, it is the deans themselves who have the responsibility to investigate and/or discipline alleged perpetrators of sexual violence. 

The training stresses the importance of considering power differential when discussing sexual violence. Considering that the upper administration, including the deans, hold the most power within our hierarchical structure, in my view, your training should be twice as long rather than twice as short.  

In light of this, please confirm that the upper administration, including the deans, will receive, minimally, the same training that was foreseen for the rest of the university community.

Furthermore, I am concerned that the short session that is planned will be a one-time occurrence that will not provide the necessary technical training to the deans. Sexual violence on campus is a serious and complex issue that demands ongoing discussion and education. In the interest of transparency, please provide the training plan for the upper administration beyond what might otherwise be seen as paying lip service to the recommendations made in the Report.

Finally, please inform us of the evaluation methods that will be implemented to ensure that the key concepts of the training have been understood. Considering the importance of this issue for our campus, I believe it is essential to ensure that the training has met its intended goals.


Mireille Gervais
Directrice, Centre des droits étudiants
Director, Student Rights Centre
Fédération étudiante de l'Université d'Ottawa / Student Federation of the University of Ottawa
tel: 613-562-5800 X 2952
fax: 613-562-5767
UCU 101

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