A former VIU staff member lodged a human rights complaint against the university, alleging female staff members and students were placed at risk of sexual harassment by a male student. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Student’s alleged sexual role-plays lead to human rights complaint against VIU

Nanaimo university says it took appropriate actions to respond to sexual harassment concerns

A former VIU staff member lodged a human rights complaint against the university, alleging female staff members and students were placed at risk of sexual harassment by a male student.

According to an article Monday in the Globe and Mail, female staff and students were sexually harassed by a male student whose “fetishistic behaviour in and out of the classroom” included role-playing that he was an infant, wearing a soother and talking like a baby.

The article identifies the complainant as Katrin Roth, former director of human rights and respectful workplace at Vancouver Island University.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did not allow a complaint from “K.R.” to proceed this summer, but she was given additional time to amend her complaint, according to a screening decision written by Diana Juricevic, tribunal chairwoman.

According to the decision, the complainant said she became aware in November 2016 that the harassment had been taking place over a two-year period.

“She describes that conduct as: sending sexually suggestive photos to women, writing in an ‘explicit, sexually exhibitionistic manner,’ following women to isolated areas, asking women out on dates repeatedly, leering and staring at women, and making women feel unsafe,” the decision noted. “She says there were instances where the student ‘pretended to seek routine services but then proceeded to surprise and involve non-consenting women in sexually arousing fantasies and role plays.’”

Juricevic wrote that the central allegations of K.R.’s complaint are that the university “failed to undertake a prompt, thorough and fair investigation or to follow its human rights and prevention of harassment policies and procedures,” but noted that the complaint “does not allege sufficient facts” and isn’t specific enough in identifying the women whose human rights are alleged to have been violated.

VIU responded to the Globe article on Monday with a statement released on behalf of Ralph Nilson, university president.

“We are … confident the university took appropriate and reasonable actions to respond to concerns that were raised and to protect the safety and well-being of our campus community,” Nilson wrote. “This matter was carefully and thoughtfully investigated by an experienced and legally trained external investigator who determined that actions of the university were reasonable.”

Nilson’s statement went on to disagree with Roth’s allegations as reported in the Globe article, saying that “due to privacy law, Ms. Roth has not been privy to all of the complexities at issue in this case, nor is she aware of all of the steps that were taken to investigate and respond to these concerns.”

Roth’s employment at the university was terminated in January 2017.

Melissa Stephens, the VIU Faculty Association’s status of women representative, wrote and released a statement Monday on social media condemning all forms of harassment.

“At a time when women, in particular, are speaking out against sexual violence and receiving backlash from people who question their credibility, VIUFA recognizes the personal and professional risks that survivors take when disclosing or reporting such information,” she wrote. “Our faculty should expect and promote a workplace culture in which survivors can be heard and believed … It is never acceptable to enable others to commit acts of sexual harassment in the workplace or elsewhere.”



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kuterra’s smolts will come from Cermaq hatcheries. (Whole Oceans image)
Cermaq to supply salmon smolts to land-based farm Kuterra

Emergent Holdings, which operates Kuterra, and Cermaq signed a four-year agreement

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Can’t wait for a COVID vaccine? Get the flu vaccine in the meantime, says Dr. Enns

“We’re in a pandemic, and we can’t afford to have dual viral infections.”

Costume Crawl 2018. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Costume Crawl will return from 12-4 p.m. on Halloween

For more information on the Costume Crawl, check out Cafe Guido’s Facebook page.

Junior Canadian Ranger Miguel Catarata was awarded the Lord Strathcona Medal back in 2019 at Port Hardy Secondary School. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Junior Canadian Rangers find new place to meet amidst pandemic

The Port Hardy patrol has historically used the facilities at Port Hardy Secondary School.

Car fire
UPDATE: No injuries, cause of vehicle fire on Hardy Bay Road unknown at this time

Port Hardy Fire Rescue arrived on scene soon after and extinguished the fire.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A video message from Mrime Minister Justin Trudeau was streamed to attendees at the State of the Island Economic Summit on Tuesday morning. (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance image)
Prime minister greets Vancouver Island economic summit attendees

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance conference being held virtually this week

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

Most Read