Message from the President Regarding Harassment Complaint

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dear members of the OCAD U community,

OCAD University has a fundamental commitment to equity and diversity. Our top priority is to create a learning environment where students feel safe and supported. We take any kind of harassment on or off campus very seriously and follow up on every complaint that is brought forward.

Recently a student here at OCAD U raised concerns through social media that our processes for investigating complaints weren’t inclusive and didn’t meet that student’s needs.

Details of such complaints are handled confidentially, as required by the law, and so that future complainants know they can bring concerns forward in a safe and respectful environment. However, OCAD U is concerned about the way this case is being presented. Although we are limited in what we can say, we can confirm that we followed all our protocols and processes and we were respectful of the student’s wishes not to proceed with an investigation.

We take this student’s feedback in earnest, as it is always our intention to create an environment where anyone feels comfortable to come forward. It is for that reason we want to take a closer look at our processes and protocols to see where we could do better.

OCAD U is holding a community drop-in for students, faculty and staff on Friday, May 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. in OCAD U’s Health & Wellness Centre (6th floor, 230 Richmond St. W.). We encourage anyone who wishes to discuss our policies and protocols in response to complaints of harassment to attend. Please RSVP to emach@ocadu.ca.  

As an academic institution, we not only support the learning of our students — we too are always learning. Our goal is to foster an environment of openness, transparency and inclusivity, and as an organization that is always learning, we are committed to translating our what we learn into improvements in our policies, protocols and procedures.

Again, our goal, always, is to foster a learning environment where all students can thrive.

Any member of the community with questions related to these policies and procedures is encouraged to contact Deanne Fisher, Vice-Provost, Students & International at dfisher@ocadu.ca.  

Sincerely,
Dr. Sara Diamond, OOnt, RCA
President & Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University

Update – Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Reflecting our commitment to ensuring an environment where everyone feels comfortable to come forward with safety and well-being concerns, OCAD University continues to take a closer look at our policies and procedures to see where we could do better.

We are currently engaging with members of the university community to better understand their experiences. We held a community drop-in for students, faculty and staff and on Friday May 10 and then extended to Tuesday, May 14 for those who we couldn’t accommodate on the 10th, in order to ensure community members have several opportunities to share their experiences and feedback.

Further, as an academic institution, as we support the learning of our students, we too are always learning. Last week, OCAD University engaged Marisha Roman to lead an independent, third-party review of the University’s response to the complaint and all relevant University policies (including the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy, the Response to Violence and Threatening Behavior Policy and the Student Non-Academic Misconduct Policy). The review will identify any deficiencies and include recommendations.

Ms. Roman is particularly suited to leading this review, having more than 20 years of  experience in investigations in post-secondary settings.

We are mindful of our responsibility to foster a safe learning environment for all students. It is through consultation with the OCAD community and engaging an independent, third-party review that we wish to ensure our processes for handling complaints are effective and inclusive for everyone.

Statement from President Diamond on former faculty member

OCAD University Logo
Friday, October 28, 2016 - 9:30pm

This afternoon, OCAD University was informed that Keesic Douglas, a former faculty member, was charged with sexual assault.

Mr. Douglas has not been employed by the university since June 30, 2015.

When the alleged assault was reported to OCAD U, we launched an internal investigation. Upon learning of pending criminal charges, university administration took steps to ban Mr. Douglas from campus and suspended its internal investigation to allow Toronto Police Service to conduct its criminal investigation without interference. OCAD University is fully cooperating with Toronto Police Service.

The safety and wellbeing of our students and community is our top priority. We encourage anyone who may need support in relation to this case to contact our confidential dedicated phone line set up for this purpose, 416-977-6000 ext. 284. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. by a member of our Health and Wellness team. Staff may make use of the University's Employee Assistance Program as well.

We are dedicated to working together with survivors, first responders, experts in sexual violence, community organizations and the wider campus community to prevent and respond to sexual assault. The university is engaged in a province-wide initiative to review policies and procedures to increase prevention and awareness of sexual violence on and off-campus and support those who have been affected.

By December 2016 we will introduce improvements to our existing policies as well as a new policy on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in support of the Ontario government’s Action Plan on Sexual Violence. The new policy ensures clear response mechanisms and timelines for addressing sexual violence, and raises awareness for support services.

Anyone who wishes to report information related to this case, may call Toronto Police Service at 416-222-TIPS.