Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montréal, April 11, 2018 - Due to new allegations of sexual harassment involving the President of the Art and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), CRARR will closely examine the situation and legal options regarding the settlement it reached with the student association of Concordia University in 2015 over another case of racial and sexual harassment.

This week, The Link reported that the current ASFA President has been openly criticized for his conduct towards a male student who alleges sexual harassment, and that there appears to be inadequate policies and procedures for effective intervention and prevention. ASFA’s President has not resigned despite calls for his departure.

In 2014, CRARR filed a civil rights complaint against ASFA and two of its student executives, on behalf of “Mei Ling”, a biracial ASFA executive who was exposed during her term of office, to continuous racial and sexual discrimination and harassment, including racist and sexist slurs in Facebook chats between ASFA's President and Vice-President that targeted her.

A settlement was reached in November 2015. One of three conditions of settlement is the creation of a Task Force on “racism, sexism and sexual violence” to address these issues (the other two include a public apology to the student and an unspecified amount of damages). Under the terms of the settlement, “the Task Force will (…) address (…) (i) violence and discrimination against women and minorities within student associations (...), and (ii) means for ensuring that complaints (...) are processed thoroughly and expediently in future cases, (…) determine concrete ways to combat and prevent racism, sexism, and sexual violence at every level of the university life, and to foster a culture on campus that encourages respectful behaviour (…).”

In May 2016, ASFA set up the Student-Led Task Force on Intersectional Issues of Sexual Assault, and adopted a policy and action plan that focuses mainly on sexual assault. CRARR was not consulted about the Task Force's mandate and action plan before it was adopted.

Once informed of this Task Force and its scope, CRARR informed ASFA of its concern about the fact that ASFA has ignored racism, thus violating its obligation. CRARR sent a legal notice, asking ASFA to indicate “the actions and measures that it will take to comply with the terms and conditions stated in said Settlement Agreement, and a clear timetable to implement these actions and measures.” The concern was later addressed, and the matter corrected.

“ASFA President’s reported conduct, and ASFA’s apparent difficulty to effectively address the complaint due to its problematic harassment policy, point to some degrees of failure to carry out the 2015 settlement conditions,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi, referring to the fact that ASFA harassment policy was suspended last month due to major flaws. The policy also fails to include gender identity as a ground of non discrimination that is now included in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

“ASFA had two years to set in place effective policies and procedures, and the latest allegation raises serious questions about its legal obligation to meet the settlement conditions, ” Niemi said. “We encourage other students who might have been harassed to come forward.”

Read the Link article: