King's releases plan to develop culture of consent

·3 min read
The University of King's College in Halifax. (Dave Laughlin/CBC - image credit)
The University of King's College in Halifax. (Dave Laughlin/CBC - image credit)

The University of King's College has released its plans to continue developing a culture of consent and respect on campus, as part of its response to an independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by a longtime former professor.

The action plan calls for a variety of measures, including improving training, formalizing policies and providing information to people on campus about sexualized violence.

The school hired two Toronto lawyers in March 2021 to conduct a third-party review of allegations against longtime professor Wayne John Hankey.

Hankey was facing three criminal trials for charges of sexual assault, indecent assault and gross indecency for incidents involving former students between 1977 and 1988, but he died in early February before any of the trials took place. The CBC has reported other allegations against him that were not included in the criminal complaints.

The interim report of the investigators, Janice Rubin and Elizabeth Bingham, was released to the King's community in May and contained several recommendations.

Education campaign

In its action plan released Tuesday, the school said it will try to educate students, staff, faculty on the sexualized violence policy, consent and bystander intervention through information tables on campus, an online module on consent and respect, workshops and other training.

The plan notes that while the investigators recommended the school consider mandatory or incentivized training, King's decided not to make it mandatory, saying it could put some participants on the defensive and put survivors in a triggering environment. However, mandatory programming will be directed to specific people in leadership roles on campus.

Training for staff at the campus pub, the Wardroom, will also be developed, including guidance on receiving a disclosure of sexual violence, bystander training and alcohol-facilitated sexual violence.

Orientation week, which takes place this week as students return to campus, will be a particular focus for training, with activities including "the sex talk" — a presentation about consent, sexual health and pleasure presented by the book and sex toy shop — information tables and other training.

CBC
CBC

King's has already included training on its sexualized violence policy in its on-boarding processes for new staff at the university, beginning in July. Those who are already on staff will have the opportunity to learn through staff and faculty "lunch and learns."

One of the investigators' recommendations was that a document be created that addresses appropriate boundaries between professors and students, and that professors reflect on their role and how they can maintain professionalism in their relationships with students within the context of a small, tight-knit school.

The university says the implementation of this recommendation will require "sensitive and nuanced engagement" taking place over the academic year, and that the school will research policy language, hold small-scale conversations among teaching staff, receive feedback and draft a policy, which will be subject to approval by the Board of Governors.

The university says it also plans to improve support and resources for survivors of sexualized violence through providing assistance to access mental health counselling and bursaries to support therapy. It also plans to hire staff to educate people who have been accused of gender-based violence.

The recommendations included that King's improve its policies in several areas, including developing a process to address multiple disclosures about the same person and explicitly spelling out how records are maintained. The school says guidelines on multiple disclosures have already been developed, and a policy will be drafted on that and record retention.

Final report

King's is still expecting the investigators to release their final report into the allegations, which is expected to determine the facts of the incidents that lead to criminal charges against Hankey.

The school has said the report will be released publicly.

King's expects to receive that report in the fall term, which runs from September to December.

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