York U student taking school to Ontario Human Rights Tribunal
WATCH ABOVE: Mandi Gray says York University’s sex assault policies discriminate against victims. Marc Carcasole reports.
TORONTO — York University is the subject of a complaint being brought to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal by one of its students.
Twenty-six-year-old Mandi Gray, who also works as a teaching assistant at the school, says she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student and TA five months ago.
While the accused was arrested by Toronto Police and charged, she says school policies and procedures used in dealing with the case left her feeling further victimized.
Among a list of allegations, Gray claims that York faculty and first responders don’t have proper sexual violence training; that she was re-traumatized by having to re-tell her story over a dozen times and that she and other students weren’t informed that the accused was back on campus after a temporary suspension.
“Every day I have to ask, ‘Am I going to see him on campus?'”
While a criminal trial is currently set to start early next year, Gray says she’s also taking the school to the Tribunal because “we wanted larger systemic changes.”
“We’re not seeking punitive damages as you would get in a civil suit,” she said. “We want some serious policy and procedural changes.”
School officials say they’ve done their best to work with Gray but admit they, and other schools, are still trying to perfect their responses to such events.
“It’s a complex societal issue,” says York Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton.
“There are many variables to consider.”
One of the biggest challenges, says Lenton, is balancing the rights of the alleged victim with those of the accused.
“Of course, once there’s an outcome of that criminal case, then the path forward is much clearer,” says Lenton.
Supporters hung a banner for their cause in the lobby of Vari Hall, York’s most iconic building.
It reads: “2015: this is my time to Eradicate Rape Culture.”
Gray even has the support of “Jane Doe,” the woman who successfully sued Toronto Police in 1998 over claims they failed to inform the community about serial rapist Paul Callow in the ’80s.
“The parallels are exact,” says Doe, referring to the similarities she sees between Gray’s case and her own.
“I sued for negligence and gender discrimination. York University has been more than negligent … They’ve absolutely failed in every aspect available to them in terms of meaningfully addressing the crime and investigating it.”
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