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‘The university’s Sports Services is implicated’: Student fed

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) said in a statement release to the Fulcrum that the University of Ottawa is investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred within a student-run club. Contrary to a statement put out by the university yesterday pertaining to “misconduct”, the SFUO says “varsity athletes” are involved.

On Nov. 24 the university said in a statement that they’ve launched an internal investigation regarding a student-run club, but that the investigation did not involve Sports Services.

Both the university and the SFUO’s statements said the alleged incident occurred in February of 2015 but they weren’t informed until recently. The university said they received an anonymous report on Nov. 11, while the SFUO says both they and the university were informed anonymously on Nov. 7.

On Friday November 13th, the SFUO as well as many university administration members met to discuss how we would proceed in working collaboratively on this issue as students, as well as varsity student athletes, are implicated in this situation,” read the SFUO statement.

The SFUO says that they were informed that a media release would be created by the university about the alleged assault, which was released yesterday. However, they say this release “failed to make a link to the varsity athletes involved, contrary to a request made by the SFUO to include them in the university’s release.”

“To our knowledge, this is a club mostly made up of Gee-Gee varsity athletes,” said the SFUO in their statement. “Thus, contrary to the statement put out by the university, the university’s Sports Services is implicated in this through an alleged aggressor in the anonymous email being a varsity athlete.”

Students at the U of O can participate in athletics in several different ways, either through Sports Services-administered varsity teams, competitive clubs, and intramurals, or a student-run SFUO club.

“The SFUO is disappointed to see that the University of Ottawa has again failed to name the problem, using terms like ‘misconduct’, thus delegitimizing the experiences of survivors of sexual assault,” reads the statement.  

The police have been contacted but no charges laid, according to the U of O. “Based on the contents of the report, the university made inquiries, and further investigation is required,” said the U of O statement. “The university has engaged an independent investigator to review the alleged misconduct and make findings of fact to assist the university in determining whether further action is necessary.”

The Ottawa police said they do not have “any information on the matter” and that they “cannot comment on any matters involving a named organization unless a charge is laid.”

The U of O has seen several high-profile cases of alleged sexual assault in the last 18 months.

Several weeks ago another story of an alleged sexual assault on campus hit the headlines. Former U of O student Mélodie Morin went public saying she was sexually assaulted by another student near campus, and called on the Ottawa police to re-open the case, which they subsequently did.  

In February 2014 a sexually graphic online conversation between several student leaders about then-SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy was made public. Reports surfaced a few days later that members of the U of O men’s hockey team were involved in a sexual assault during a road trip in Thunder Bay. Two players, Guillaume Donovan and David Foucher, were charged with sexual assault in August 2014 by Thunder Bay police, and the trial is ongoing.

The U of O launched an internal investigation following the events surrounding the men’s hockey team, however the Canadian Press revealed that the documents were prepared as part of a pre-emptive legal defence.

The university also created a Task Force on Respect and Equality to create a set of recommendations for the university to combat rape culture and sexualized violence on campus. They released their recommendations in January 2014, and U of O president Allan Rock said the university would be adopting all of them.

The recommendations include a gender audit of Sports Services, mandatory training on harassment and sexual violence for campus leadership and university-run groups, and the creation of an explicit sexual violence policy among several other recommendations.

The SFUO says the club in question will be suspended until further notice. Both the university, and the SFUO said in their statements that they would not be commenting further.