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President claims no disconnect between university and students

by Étienne Lajoie March 20, 2018
President claims no disconnect between university and students
Article written by Étienne Lajoie and Megan Hunt

Alan Shepard says he is interested in the results of the CSU student congress

In an interview with The Concordian on March 15, Concordia president Alan Shepard offered no comment in response to a recent CBC report revealing that two Concordia part-time instructors, Jon Paul Fiorentino and David McGimpsey, were the subjects of complaints in a third-party investigation.

“I wouldn’t be able to make any comments about any investigation,” Shepard said. The university has not made a comment regarding the complaints since the report was published on Feb. 28.

Although Fiorentino and McGimpsey were originally scheduled to teach this semester, their classes have been reassigned while the allegations against them are being investigated. Shepard told The Concordian on Feb. 15 that professors are not allowed to teach while they’re under investigation.

Lack of faculty attendance at student congress

When asked if he felt the university’s administration was disconnected from the student body, Shepard said: “Absolutely not.”

As previously reported by The Concordian, only one Concordia faculty member was present at the congress organized by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) to discuss proposals on potential sexual misconduct policy changes. Kate Bligh, a part-time faculty member in the School of Irish Studies, as well as the theatre and English departments, said that in her 20 years of teaching, she had never been asked to attend any consent training similar to what the CSU wishes to implement for all students, staff and faculty within a reasonable time frame.

“The same way we hold discrimination and violence to this standard, we have to do the same with sexual assault and violence,” Bligh said.

Shepard said he was “very interested to see the results” of the congress, adding that Bill 151, provincial legislation requiring universities to take certain steps to address sexual violence, will require consent training for faculty and staff in all universities.
“We have to comply by September 2019 and I anticipate that we’ll do it this coming year, so it’ll be early,” Shepard said. According to him, the university is already doing “a huge amount of voluntary consent training” for students, but whether or not the training will become mandatory depends on the findings of the newly created sexual assault task force.

He also said the university’s Sexual Assault Research Centre, whose employees were not present at the congress, “does a great job [and] has been training hundreds, if not thousands of students. Probably thousands at this point.”

Shepard told The Concordian he hasn’t received an invitation from the CSU to meet with executives, but said if they want to speak with him, he is “always willing to talk to them.”

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

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