SACKVILLE, N.B. — Mount Allison University says it will release details of its plan to address sexual violence on campus in the coming days, following two weeks of criticism from current and former students.
The university has been on the defensive since Nov. 7, when one of its students, Michelle Roy, posted a picture of herself on Facebook holding a sign saying the school "supports rapists."
The message that accompanies the photo — which was shared more than 600 times — describes her struggles reporting incidents of sexual harassment to the school. Days later, hundreds showed up to a protest on campus to support her and to demand the university do more to address sexual violence.
In response, Mount Allison University announced on Nov. 12 a series of measures to prevent sexual violence, including a partnership with Moncton-based organization Crossroads for Women, which the school said will improve student access to direct outreach and counselling.
Laura Dillman, spokeswoman for the university, said in an email Thursday the president's cabinet "has been working to plan in more detail and to implement the actions in the November 12 communication. An update around these developments will be shared with the University community in the coming days."
Two Mount Allison alumni, Olivia Landry and Molly Hamilton, say the university needs to invest more resources into its strategy to prevent sexual violence and to support survivors. “The university taking action against sexual violence is long overdue,” Landry said in an interview Thursday. “I do think the university will have to do more.”
Landry and Hamilton sent the university administration a letter dated Nov. 13, expressing concerns about what they called the school's "shameful history" in addressing sexual violence.
"Of great concern to us is the pervasiness of sexual violence in Mount Allison residences," their letter read. "... As alumni, it infuriates us that students arriving at Mount Allison, excited for a new adventure, are being put into damaging and unsafe situations."
Landry said her letter received more than 460 signatories from current and former students as well as others. She didn't want to make the signatures public, however, because she said she hadn't asked the signatories if they wanted to be identified.
Dillman confirmed the school received Landry's letter, saying it was "signed by many alumni." She also said the university received "over 100 notes of feedback" from students, staff, faculty and alumni through the school's website.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020.
— By Danielle Edwards in Halifax.
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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press