The University of Calgary says it won’t be reviewing its sexual violence policy for another two years, despite recent controversy caused by having a convicted sex offender on campus.
Connor Neurauter, originally from Kamloops, B.C., pleaded guilty last week to sexual interference in an incident that took place before he was a student at the university.
Few facts about the case are known because of a publication ban imposed by B.C. courts, but the 21-year-old student was handed a three-month jail sentence and two-years’ probation. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years and to provide a DNA sample to the national data bank.
His sentence was supposed to start on Jan 4. However, a judge delayed the start of his jail time so he could finish his semester at the university.
News of Neurauter’s guilty plea sparked concern among some students, prompting a petition that called for his expulsion. The petition gained more than 20,000 signatures on its first day.
On Thursday, U of C officials confirmed they had asked Neurauter not to return to the school for the remainder of the semester. However, because the offence occurred prior to Neurauter’s time as a student at the university, officials said they have no grounds to expel him under their current policies.
During a Friday conference call about the decision, University of Calgary provost Dru Marshall said they won’t be reviewing the facility’s current sexual violence policy, which was approved for another two years in June 2017.
“We spent considerable time developing that policy with considerable student involvement in particular. We agreed when we approved that policy that we would assess it two years down the road and we will stick to that timeline.”
Students Paloma Bogacz and Dana Cramer are now organizing a rally to protest the university’s decision.
“I still do feel he should be expelled,” Bogacz said. “I don’t think someone who is a registered sex offender and a criminal should have the privilege of getting an education.”
Marshall said they had taken student feedback, “particularly from the Student Union,” into consideration in the decision, but the Student Union suggested its conversations on the matter have been limited.
“We haven’t really had much conversation with them since our initial conversation,” Hilary Jahelka, vice president of Student Life with the Student Union, said. “We were not part of the decision-making on this.”
Marshall suggested perhaps it’s time Canadian universities come together as a collective to ensure the safety and security of students across the country.
Representatives from the University of Calgary are working with Neurauter to determine how he’ll be able to complete his courses to finish his current semester.
“It’s part of our ongoing dialogue with him,” Marshall said.
When asked what would happen if he were to attempt to return to the university although being advised not to, Marshall said, “If he was to show up on campus, campus security will escort him off campus.”
University officials said that decision was made out of concern for students safety, as well as Neurauter’s safety. His family said he has received a number of online threats.
In a statement to Global News, Neurauter’s parents defended their son.
“Most of us remember being 18 and the challenges that were involved,” Chris and Susan Neurauter said. “This has been a nightmare for our family, one that none of us, but particularly our children, are equipped to handle. We would not wish this situation on anyone, not even the woman responsible.”
The university has not yet decided whether Neurauter will be allowed back on campus next fall.