Volume 91, Issue 42

Wednesday, November 12, 1997

Downey fresh


Weigh the evidence

Re: A dose of objectivity on a sensitive issue, Oct. 28

To the Editor:
It seems there is considerable confusion surrounding the USC vote on removing Stuart Trier from the council. Facts have become lost in speculation.

The facts are as follows. A two-thirds majority vote of council is required to remove a member. In a secret ballot vote, the USC did not gain the two-thirds majority needed to carry the motion to remove Trier. This was NOT a vote on whether Trier was guilty or innocent. This was not a criminal proceeding.

Previous to the council meeting, a Disciplinary Committee had been formed for the purpose of investigating the matter and then formulated a recommendation to the council. This committee was diligent in their efforts to provide Trier with an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him as is required in an administrative hearing. Other witnesses were also called before the committee and in total, approximately 12 hours were spent in hearing witnesses and deliberating on the matter. Guided by the sound advise of the USC Legal Affairs Officer, this committee applied the appropriate administrative standard of proof and made a final recommendation that Trier should be removed under the grounds of "just cause." Another factual matter: Trier was removed from his Soph position for violation of the contract which he had signed with the USC.

The speculation is as follows: the suggestion that The Gazette should refrain from writing negative commentary about Trier because he is an honours student with a high 80 per cent average is ridiculous. There is no standard character profile for men who commit sexual assault or harassment. These people come from all walks of life, high achievers included. The statistics presented by the Women's Issues Network during the recent Sexual Assault Awareness campaign indicate 60 per cent of male university students polled in a survey responded they would commit sexual assault if they knew they would not be caught.

Statistics aside, let us be realistic and admit sexual assault does occur. The fact that allegations of sexual assault or harassment may be distressing to the alleged perpetrator does not justify silence about the matter. The USC has a right to be concerned about the integrity of its members, as does the Western community. I agree that allegations of sexual assault or harassment should be handled in a sensitive manner. However, we do not have to pretend that in the absence of a finding or guilt before a criminal court, the assessment of the matter given by the USC Disciplinary Committee amounts to nothing.

Diana Reynolds
USC Equity Officer

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Copyright The Gazette 1997