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MONTREAL -- Concordia University is taking seriously all of the allegations of sexual misconduct involving members of its English department, including new claims following a blog post earlier this week, the school's president said Wednesday. The initial allegations surfaced in a post by Mike Spry, a writer and former Concordia student, about the university's creative writing department.
Spry, who did not respond to an email seeking comment, alleges he witnessed and was made aware over the years of "innumerable instances of unwanted affection, groping, inappropriate remarks and propositions. His allegations of sexual harassment and predatory behaviour toward students is detailed in the post entitled, "No Names, Only Monsters. Since the post appeared Monday, other people have made allegations, including award-winning Montreal author Heather O'Neill, who says she was harassed during her time at the university in the late s.
Concordia president Alan Shepard issued a statement Wednesday and announced three measures: He told a news conference later in the day he would not comment on any specific department, faculty member or allegation due to the confidentiality of the investigative process. He also declined to say whether any university staff or faculty members had been suspended as a result of the allegations.
O'Neill, meanwhile, said the allegations in Spry's blog post mirror the harassment she experienced with a professor at Concordia nearly two decades ago. O'Neill, whose debut novel "Lullabies for Little Criminals" won several prestigious awards, said her initial instinct at the time was to dismiss her own experience during which she felt guilt and shame.
She said many emerging female writers feel terrified about coming forward because they are worried it will have an impact on their futures and careers. I would say I was vulnerable to these forms of abuse. I didn't even realize how wrong it was. On Wednesday, Shepard said he hadn't been aware of any allegations of misconduct or impropriety within the creative writing department. If I was aware I would have acted sooner. O'Neill said Concordia should trigger an immediate revision of policy governing relationships between professors and students.