Volume 91, Issue 54

Wednesday, December 3, 1997

Jack Frosh


OPINIONS
 

Harassment should be treated more sensitively

Re: Alleged sexual harassment claims of Saugeen USC representative

To the Editor:

While I fully understand the notion of "innocent until proven guilty," I can't help but wonder about a recent decision made by the USC. The matter to which I am referring is the motion to impeach Saugeen-Maitland Hall representative Stuart Trier on account of the violation of his Soph contract and the alleged claims of sexual harassment. The matter was investigated and debated by the USC and though I do not claim to know all of the facts, I still question the reasoning behind this decision.

When a woman confesses a story of sexual harassment, it is a trying, embarrassing and emotional ordeal; one rarely done out of spite. Knowing this, as student leaders who claim to represent both sexes should, it surprises me that these claims were cast aside as if untrue. Though I do recognize the sensitivity of this particular issue and that the differing stories were hard to judge for the truth, I can't help but wonder what the decision would have been had the facts been clearer. The issue which perplexes me is who the USC would consider to be a bad councilor. Michael Rubinoff was quoted in The Gazette as having said Trier was a bad Soph, but they did not find him to be a bad councilor. In my opinion, the role of a Soph is the basis for all other leadership positions that can be held at this school. It is the ultimate commitment to first-year students: making them feel comfortable and adopting a sense of responsibility towards them.

If the issue were merely about Trier drinking while under contract, I might not be so harsh as to judge him as a bad councilor. But since the claims deal with issues of inappropriate sexual suggestion and contact, I would say he is definitely a bad representative for Saugeen, as it is evident he has no respect for the approximately 700 women who live there. If I, in my three years as a Brescia Soph, violated this contract (which Sophs are expected to hold sacred) to the degree Trier allegedly has, I hope my council would have the good sense to impeach me from my position, because I would have no right to speak on behalf of our students and our college. If the allegations are true, I think it is an insult not only to the first-year student who tearfully shared her story with the University Students' Council, but to the female population at Western. Since this issue is closed and Trier was assumed innocent, I only hope that future situations will be more sensitive to the issues in question. If sexual harassment is an insignificant determinant of one's character and ability to represent a large student body and if accusation made by women are pushed aside, I fear the type of environment we are creating at Western.

Amy Kohl
Foods & Nutrition IV


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Copyright The Gazette 1997