MONTREAL – McGill University’s campus is being rocked by a sexual assault scandal that involves its football team. After three Redmen players were charged with the sexual assault of a Concordia student in April 2012, they were allowed to remain enrolled in the university and continue to play. Advocacy groups on both campuses are furious at what they view as a lack of action on the part of the university administration, and one group set up an online petition to “fight rape culture at McGill.”
“This incident happened a long time ago, McGill has known about it for a long time, and there was absolutely no consequence to the people who have been accused of a really serious crime,” said Julie Michaud, of the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University.
A little more than a week ago, the university revealed that the three players had quit the football team.
“I wish that it had come much sooner, and I think it’s really unfortunate that it’s only coming after widespread outcry,” Michaud said.
For its part, McGill sent out a statement to students and faculty saying it would take three steps in response to the situation: hire a coordinator that would report to the university’s dean of students to communicate with student groups and hold two public forums yearly to discuss issues of sexual consent. University officials also reiterated they believed McGill acted responsibly.
But some of the students at the university say they feel uneasy about the situation.
“It’s just kind of sad and scary to see that such awful things could happen at McGill and you don’t really realize it until it really comes to light,” said Lucie Levine, a student.
The incident allegedly occurred on Sept. 9, 2011. According to reports, the three men met the alleged victim and another woman at a bar and went back to the players’ apartment. The three men charged with crimes, Ian Sheriff, Guillaume Tremblay and Brenden Carriere all have a court hearing scheduled next month. They have not been convicted of an offence.
“It makes me think of Penn State and what happened there,” said law student Tina Hlimi, adding that she thought the university reacted too slowly. “It apparently took 13 months for them to do something and put certain policies in place.”