Dear Graduate Students of the English Department,
We are writing in response to the CBC article that was published on February 06th, 2019 (date mistakenly cited at February 11th in our email). When we were elected to our positions, we all knew that the events and allegations from last year would continue to affect students, the English Department, and the relationships between us. We would like to begin by reiterating that we are in full support of the complainants and victims. SAGE is a student organization run entirely by volunteers and current graduate students, as such our time is limited, and we are unable to devote ourselves to developing solutions. That said, we have included some suggestions and requests below.
We would like to express our disapproval at the lack of transparency from Concordia and the Sexual Assault Taskforce that is currently evaluating the on-campus culture. The delayed release of the findings has resulted in the feeling of the University’s complacency and disregard for the victims.
Acknowledging the fact that Quebec law currently prevents the transparency we would otherwise demand, we believe that there is more that can be done by the University and the Department to support their students in this uncertain time. We would like to propose a website that will collect all the information that has so far been released to the public in an easy-to-navigate format along with resources for recovering survivors and victims. Clearly outlining the acceptable relationships and interactions between staff and students will allow for strong and navigable boundaries. This can also be used to streamline the process of information and complaints, both of which have been undeniably murky and contentious.
Another potential step that has been brought to the Department is a yearly mandatory in-person sexual assault and harassment training. In the effort of good faith, we would like to propose a similar one-day training program for incoming TA’s.
Institutions are slow moving, and the high turnover of graduate students and SAGE members can make it feel all the more so. With that in mind, we acknowledge that the process of repairing relationships between students and the department will be a long one. Professors can help accelerate the process by releasing their own statements in relation to their position on the allegations of the last year. We believe that this would be a first step in the direction of rebuilding the trust between students and faculty in the English Department.
Finally, we appreciate the statement that was released by the Chair of the Department yesterday and are looking forward to seeing the initiatives implemented.
Your SAGE Representatives