‘We’re here to learn, not to face harassment’: McGill, Concordia students stage walkout

Click to play video: 'Sexual violence cases not handled well, insist Concordia, McGill students'
Sexual violence cases not handled well, insist Concordia, McGill students
WATCH: The student unions at Concordia University and McGill University organized a walkout to protest the way sexual violence claims against professors have been handled by the schools. Global's Felicia Parrillo reports – Apr 11, 2018

Almost 1,000 students from McGill University and Concordia University walked out of class Wednesday to send a united message about sexual harassment on campus.

READ MORE: Quebec unveils multi-million dollar strategy to fight sexual assault

“We’re here to learn, we’re not here to face harassment or violence,” said McGill student Daneese Rao.

“No one should be deterred from taking a class because they are scared about their safety or worried about their safety.”

Earlier this year, Concordia launched an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct in the school’s creative writing program.

WATCH BELOW: Challenges of reporting sexual assault

Following this, two professors had their courses reassigned.

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READ MORE: Concordia student-run association says classes reassigned following sexual misconduct allegations

Recently, McGill students said sexual misconduct allegations had come to light at their university, too.

READ MORE: Concordia University president ‘disturbed’ by sexual misconduct allegations

“On Wednesday of last week, the Student’s Society of McGill University sent a letter to the McGill administration about how complaints against professors are being handled,” said Connor Spencer, from McGill Students’ Society External Affairs.

“[We] asked for an external investigation to be launched into the office of the Dean of Arts.”

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The students said they didn’t receive an adequate response from the university and that’s why they decided to organize a walkout.

READ MORE: Concordia University issues public safety alert after sex assault, drugging reports

“I’m sick of having my issues [swept] under the rug [for] other people’s mental health, or professors’ jobs [or] so everyone doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable with this issue,” said Victoria Pagan, a first year McGill student.

Students from both universities insist they want officials to acknowledge that sexual misconduct exists.

READ MORE: Concordia University reacts to sexual misconduct allegations

They also stress that they want to be included in the way these issues are handled.

WATCH BELOW: Concordia responds to sexual misconduct allegations

Click to play video: 'Concordia responds to sexual misconduct allegations'
Concordia responds to sexual misconduct allegations

“We’re really asking for the university to step up and sit down with us and engage the way we see it fit,” said Asma Mushtaq, from the Concordia Student Union.

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READ MORE: ‘And then a man said it’: Concordia grad says read between the lines of sexual misconduct allegations

In a statement to Global News, Concordia University said it takes allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and students have an important role to play in improving how these incidences are handled, so feedback is welcomed.

READ MORE: Concordia and McGill react to Quebec’s new campus sexual assault bill

McGill University declined Global News’ request for comment.

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