Grad student builds human rights complaint against UBC
More people are joining a human rights complaint against the University of British Columbia over how it handles reports of sexual misconduct.
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The University of British Columbia grad planning to file a human rights complaint against the university for how it deals with sexual assault complaints is busy building her case against the school after more than a dozen people reached out to tell their own stories of harassment.
Glynnis Kirchmeier, one of three students who lambasted UBC in November for taking a year and a half to expel a student after at least six women accused him of sexually harassment or assault, originally planned to file the complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal by the end of 2015.
But Kirchmeier said Wednesday it’s taking longer than expected after approximately 15 other survivors reached out to share their experiences dating back to the 1990s of reporting sexual or personal harassment to UBC and the university’s alleged subsequent lack of action. Not all want to participate in the complaint, but it has taken time for the lawyer to include the stories of those who do, she said.
The crux of the complaint is that UBC’s process causes harm to students who report sexual harassment or assault by prioritizing the rights of the accused and continuously re-victimizing survivors who speak out. After the students drew attention to the problem, UBC issued an apology and promised an independent investigation into the situation. But the women involved said it was too late.
As the lawyer prepares the complaint, which must be filed by March in order to have a shot at being heard by the tribunal, Kirchmeier is researching best policy practices for sexual misconduct reporting. Speed, transparency, accountability and centralization, among other things, are key areas where she is looking for change.
Ultimately, it’s not about the policy but how those who report incidents are treated, she said.
“We’re not going to hang our hats totally on UBC needs a new policy… the way it’s enacted is more important,” she said, adding she has spoken with faculty members who are interested in positive reform.
“I’m doing this to improve the university, not to tear it down.”
Anyone who has reported sexual misconduct to UBC officials over the past 20 years who wants to join the human rights complaint can email firstname.lastname@example.org.