If UBC staff determine sex assault or harassment allegations against a student or teacher are credible, they still may not report it to the RCMP.
Speaking on CKNW’s Simi Sara Show, UBC associate vice-president of equity and inclusion Sara-Jane Finlay explains
“That’s a choice for the survivor. How they want to report, who they want to report to and when they want to report. We would be providing them with the information and education around those various options, but it is the choice of the survivor, how they want to proceed.”
Finlay says the university makes a point of laying out police involvement among the options offered to students with complaints, but that at the end of the day, it needs to respect the student’s decision.
“We would always include reporting to police as one of the ways forward for people who report sexual assaults, but ultimately they must be allowed to have the agency to make their own choices. Reporting to the police enters them into a different process outside of the institution.”
Duty to act?
The University has drawn fire for taking too long to respond to complaints about a PhD student, who has now been expelled.
But what if an accused student enrolls in another school, and offends again?
CKNW reached out to the RCMP to ask if the university had reported the student following his expulsion, and whether police should be involved in such cases.
Investigators would not comment on the case.
“We typically don’t confirm/deny our investigations. Those that result in criminal charges become a matter of public record. We are obviously aware of the current media stories surrounding allegations out at UBC. For any comment we would refer you back to UBC and the individuals who have raised the concerns.”
A former student is also vowing to launch a human rights complaint for what she calls a broken system for reporting and processing complaints.
Reporting an assault
Anti-violence advocates say universities should not be required to report sexual assault or harassment complaints to the police.
“In all good conscience, I could not endorse any sort of process that would make it obligatory for a women to become involved in criminal justice proceedings.”
Barb MacQuarrie with the Centre for Research and Education for Violence Against Women and Children, calls the criminal justice system a “hostile and unfriendly place” for survivors of sexual assault.
But, she has a suggestion for Canadian Universities.
“They have the possibility among themselves – sharing information about the results of investigations.”
UBC says it’s the victim’s choice to report, regardless of their findings.