MORE than a week after Brandon University’s handling of student allegations of sexual misconduct against a coach sparked backlash and a new external investigation, the administration remains tight-lipped on the subject.
"The silence is pretty concerning," said Serena Petrella, an associate professor who chairs BU’s sociology department.
The school has yet to issue a mass communication to its community about how the matter is being addressed.
Last week, the Free Press revealed that the head coach of BU’s women’s soccer program remained on the job for months, despite an internal investigation concluding that Jesse Roziere, 30, had acted inappropriately with student athletes.
A handful of former Bobcat athletes, who are in their early 20s, reported concerns about Roziere’s behaviour, including suggestive messages and blackmail, during a review that took place in early 2021.
Employees who undertook the harassment investigation failed to notify the office that oversees sexualized violence — which was created five years ago, after the school came under fire for forcing a student who reported a sexual assault on campus to keep quiet — until it was complete in the spring.
The complainants’ request for a redo to take into account the sexualized violence policy was dismissed at the end of August.
In response to media inquiries last week, BU indicated it put Roziere on leave and is hiring a third-party investigator. The school cited new information brought to light by a reporter, but would not elaborate.
Petrella said transparent communication would give the community a sense of how the school is taking action, and allow BU to reiterate its commitment to addressing sexualized violence and related resources.
Earlier this year, Petrella was among the instructors who wrote a letter to BU president David Docherty to oppose the school slashing its sole sexualized violence prevention and education coordinator’s hours by 75 per cent.
The full-time position was reduced on Jan. 1 — six weeks after a student athlete first emailed BU’s athletic director with concerns.
In an email to students Tuesday, the students union called the delay in connecting athletes with the sexualized violence office "concerning and disturbing."
BUSU president Olufunke Sophia Adeleye told the Free Press she is meeting with Docherty to discuss the matter Friday.
Mary Lobson, founder of Respect, Educate and Empower Survivors, an online platform that connects anyone who wants to disclose sexualized violence at a Manitoba university to campus-specific support services and reporting options, will also meet with BU administration.
Lobson said she’s frustrated: "There were so many opportunities for people in positions of trust to do something different... It’s one thing to have policies, it’s another thing for staff to know those policies and then to actually follow through on them."
During a soccer game over the weekend, players on the women’s roster, which includes Roziere’s younger sister, wore strips of white tape with the initials "J.R." written on them around their ankles.
The action was not initiated or approved by the school and coaches were not made aware of it until after the game had started, said BU communications director Grant Hamilton this week.
Hamilton said trainers have discussed "the appropriateness of this" with the team.
The university has indicated it has no plans to comment further because a new investigation is underway.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.