Laurier University in Ontario is reeling after its first attempt to enact a policy brought forward by Bill C-16 went poorly.
The policy in question was gendered and sexual violence and it was allegedly violated when Lindsay Shepherd, a graduate student and teaching assistant, showed a class a video explaining the use of pronouns in the singular.
The clip was from a segment on a public television network in Ontario. The video featured a university professor from Toronto, Dr. Jordan Peterson, explaining the criticism of “they” and “them” as singular pronouns.
The publicly aired discussion between panelists became a hot debate when ties between gender and sexual proclivity were put into question, one panelist went as far as accusing Peterson of abuse towards students.
Mrs. Shepherd was then summoned to a meeting with her supervisor Nathan Rambukkana, Adria Joel, manager of the “Gendered Violence Prevention and Support” as well as the program co-ordinator Herbert Pimlott.
They raised concerns with her actions, and said the video “… has created a toxic climate for some students … ”
Mrs. Shepherd asked at one point “Am I supposed to comfort them?”
Rambukkana stated that making such arguments is against the law under Bill C-16.
Adria Joel also was asked at one point to clarify which part of the law under Bill C-16 Shepherd actually violated, Joel said that she violated the law under gendered and sexual violence, but the law was neither read out, nor made clear to Shepherd as to how the video actually overstepped lawful borders.
The conversation between Shepherd and the school representatives was recorded and sent to media outlets. Shepherd created a twitter account following the release of the recording to respond to public comments.
Vice Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy apologized on behalf of Laurier University, stating: “After listening to this recording, an apology is in order. The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires. I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd. I will convey my apology to her directly. Professor Rambukkana has also chosen to apologize to Lindsay Shepherd about the way the meeting was conducted.”
She continues in talking about the condemnation that the staff and students involved have received, and explained a third party investigation is being conducted to understand the situation better.
MacLatchy regrets the condemnation that the staff and students involved have received, and explained a third party investigation is being conducted to understand the situation better.
The entire bill-16 can be found at http://www.parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-16/royal-assent.
– Joe Fletcher
– Image by David Bebee/Record Staff via the Toronto Star