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Montreal, October 30, 2017 — CRARR is calling for enhanced sanctions, including notation on student records, for perpetrators of campus sexual violence after finding out that a Concordia University student, who pleaded guilty in criminal court for assaulting his then-girlfriend and who was sanctioned by the University's disciplinary tribunal for violent conduct, was recently awarded a scholarship from a private science foundation.

Meanwhile, the victim of his violent assault, “Cathy”, who was also a Concordia student, lost her scholarships while navigating the University's exhausting internal procedures following an assault off-campus, and a subsequent incident on campus. Today, she is still unable to return to her studies due to lasting physical and psychological injuries.

CRARR's recent work with three young women, all former Concordia students and victims of campus sexual violence, exposes the clear trend of aggressors facing little to no accountability and meagre sanctions imposed by the University. CRARR has filed civil rights complaints on behalf of two women against the University for failure to provide effective protection, support and accommodation, thus violating their Charter rights to equality, dignity and security.

In Cathy's case, her aggressor pleaded guilty in criminal court to assault and breaching a restraining order between himself and the victim, yet received a sanction of only 30 hours of community service from the Student Hearing Panel for his “threatening, violent conduct.” Thus, he remained at liberty to continue to pursue his studies while the victim was left to fend for herself, never receiving tangible support from the University necessary to ensure her safety and return to school.

The granting of this scholarship to the aggressor suggests that neither his criminal offense nor the sanction imposed by the Student Tribunal were notated on his student record, and that the foundation in question failed to consider student conduct outside of academic performance.

“It is incredibly disturbing to see these women pay the price for violence that was committed against them and have their right to education infringed upon, especially while their aggressors walk away, seemingly unrestricted and reaping awards in the process,” said Marissa Bialowas, Social Work Intern at CRARR.

“We're calling on universities and foundations to assume their responsibility in preventing campus sexual violence, which begins with acknowledging its existence and holding perpetrators accountable,” she added.

CRARR is proposing the “Virginia Solution” to campus sexual violence, modelled after the U.S. state of Virginia's recent legislative actions that include notation on students' academic records in cases of sexual violence. According to changes to the state's Code that came into force last year, higher education institutions are now responsible for including “a prominent notation on the academic transcript of each student who has been suspended for, has been permanently dismissed for, or withdraws from the institution while under investigation for an offense involving sexual violence” (Va. Code § 23.1-900).

“What we're calling for is a clear notation on institutional records in cases where a student has been found guilty of, or pleaded guilty to, criminal offenses or administrative charges related to sexual violence, even if they are not suspended, as in Cathy's case,” stated Bialowas.

It should be noted that Concordia University presently has a policy for notation of academic misconduct (e.g. plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration between students, tearing or mutilating an examination booklet or an examination paper, and multiple submissions of a piece of work for evaluative purposes), as stated in Art. 85 of its Academic Code of Conduct.

However, there appears to be no policy on notation in light of a criminal conviction or guilty plea, an administrative finding of non-academic misconduct such as threatening or violent conduct, or internal sanctions imposed on the offending student for campus sexual violence.

“The policy currently reads that academic misconduct is more serious than campus sexual violence. While plagiarising can follow someone around for the rest of his or her life, committing an act of sexual violence might result in a little slap on the wrist,” concluded Bialowas. “We are demanding higher moral, social and academic standards.”

The civil rights complaint against Concordia University, filed by CRARR on Cathy's behalf, is being processed by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.