The vice president of the University of Toronto has lent her voice to a number of female academics who have alleged that a former tea provost engaged in sexual relations with her students and sexually assaulted them during her tenure in Toronto and for years afterwards.
Trinity College announced an external investigation because of the allegations, detailed in a podcast published by Al Jazeera on Tuesday. U of T pledges to stamp out sexual violence and harassment; The president pledged to “do everything in its power” to the university to protect members of the community.
In the podcast, Vice President Alexandra Gillespie recorded an incident where Andy Orchard, professor of English and Medieval Studies at U of T from 2000 to 2013, whose portrait still hangs on Trinity, allegedly sexually assaulted her. faced with. .
“I remember it in pieces,” she said. “He seemed very drunk to me and surrounded me on a ladder. And because he wasn’t letting me go, it felt like a threat.
“I remember him saying: ‘I’m going to destroy you.’ “
Star contacted Orchard, who did not respond before the deadline. Orchard’s lawyers sent a five-page letter to Al Jazeera disputing the allegations, but did not allow it to appear in the report.
Gillespie said she did not report the incident because she was too scared, because Orchard, who was Trinity College’s provost and chancellor, was a powerful figure.
“It made me feel so humiliated and underestimated and confused,” she said in the podcast. “It’s the instinctive response that you should please her to keep herself safe and be the right kind of woman—the woman who can joke.”
Al Jazeera report covers half a dozen allegations sexual harrasment and Improperty by Orchard, who taught at the prestigious Cambridge University in the UK before U.K.T and is now a professor at Oxford.
Female professors and students alleged that Orchard was often intoxicated for meetings and indulging in multiple sexual relationships with young women where there was a clear power imbalance.
Gillespie, an internationally renowned humanities researcher and principal at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she is also chair of the Department of English and Drama, said she felt it was important to speak up.
“I’ve finally gotten to a position where if I speak up, if I say ‘no,’ there can be no retaliation,” she said in the podcast. “I don’t want to engage in this hurtful silence anymore.”
“That’s what happens when you foster people who have previously been marginalized in positions of power. You give them the ability to talk about their experiences and then change the cultures that made those negative experiences possible. .
Starr contacted Gillespie, who declined to comment. “I believe I’ve said exactly what I wanted — and feel capable — to say on the podcast.”
In an email sent Wednesday to members of Trinity College, Provost Mayo Moran said: “The material that has been published raises very serious issues that are very disturbing.”
While Moran would not comment on the specific case due to “privacy and related considerations”, he announced that the college would appoint an outside expert to investigate any “Trinity-specific issues” that needed to be addressed.
In a separate statement, U of T President Merrick Gertler said the experience described in the Al Jazeera report is “very disturbing and upsetting for all of us.”
Noting that a new policy on sexual violence and harassment was brought in after Orchard’s alleged sexual misconduct, Gertler said the policy is now under review and will include input from survivors.
“While we have worked hard to strengthen our policies, we recognize that much more needs to be done – given the particular dynamics in the higher education setting,” he said. “I want to reassure members of my community – especially survivors – that I am the top priority as regards this issue.”
The Al Jazeera report also alleges that Orchard indulged in a public sexual act during a conference dinner and had an affair with a young woman during his time at U of Tea. In a separate incident, a group of graduate students complained when the orchard made progress toward one. student at a pub, but was told that as reported, the only result was a letter in his personnel file.
Trinity College Against Sexual Harassment and Harassment, a student-run organization focused on sexual assault prevention and advocacy, issued its own statement calling on the school to investigate the claims made against Orchard.
The group sought public statements from Trinity College and the university condemning Orchard’s conduct and demanding the removal of his portrait from the college’s dining hall.
Moran said in a statement to the school community that the picture would be removed from display while it was reviewed by the college.
On Wednesday afternoon, when a star photographer visited the college, the portrait was still prominently displayed.
“We were aware of some of his conduct and the allegations against him since last year, and we brought him to the administration,” said group president Micah Kalish. “We didn’t get much response.
Kalish said the response from the school has been weak and she hopes the review of the sexual violence policy will include important updates, such as a no-tolerance policy on student-staff relations.
“I am a very cautious optimist and I say this because the university has shown a pattern of recklessness … and constantly silences survivors,” she said.
In June, U of T students in the Faculty of Music gave the school an open letter calling for action against “ongoing malpractices” and sexual harassment at the university, and pointed to repeated Mishandling of sexual violence on campus.