November 19, 2018

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Students get credit to attend sex assault sessions

U of M acts in wake of allegations against disgraced music prof.

Travis Ross / Winnipeg Free Press Files</p><p>Portrait of Steve Kirby, former director of Jazz Studies at the University of Manitoba. </p>

Travis Ross / Winnipeg Free Press Files

Portrait of Steve Kirby, former director of Jazz Studies at the University of Manitoba.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2017 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Music students at the University of Manitoba have been given academic credit to learn about sexual assault in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against disgraced former jazz studies professor Steve Kirby.

The Winnipeg school confirmed all students enrolled in its faculty of music received a concert credit if they attended a special noon-hour session Sept. 13 to learn about its respectful work and learning policy and its sexual-assault policy.

As well, the university held a similar presentation Sept. 11 for students sitting on the faculty’s student association.

The special sessions weren’t known at the time, but some details about them are contained in a report to the U of M’s board of governors from university president David Barnard for its meeting Nov. 21.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2017 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Music students at the University of Manitoba have been given academic credit to learn about sexual assault in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against disgraced former jazz studies professor Steve Kirby.

The Winnipeg school confirmed all students enrolled in its faculty of music received a concert credit if they attended a special noon-hour session Sept. 13 to learn about its respectful work and learning policy and its sexual-assault policy.

As well, the university held a similar presentation Sept. 11 for students sitting on the faculty’s student association.

The special sessions weren’t known at the time, but some details about them are contained in a report to the U of M’s board of governors from university president David Barnard for its meeting Nov. 21.

In the report, Barnard wrote the university’s human rights and conflict management officer, along with its director of student advocacy and accessibility, held two presentations Sept. 11 and 13.

The students "received concert credit for attending the sessions" and "case scenarios were included in all sessions."

According to the music faculty’s undergraduate student handbook, music students have to attend a minimum of 30 concerts during the academic year to not be docked marks.

The handbook says a maximum of 10 of the concert credits must be gained by attending professional concerts, including those given by organizations such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra.

The handbook also says a minimum of 20 of the concert credits must be accumulated by attending "midday recitals, student credit recitals, University of Manitoba ensemble performances, or the Wednesday Night Hang."

The handbook does not address receiving a concert credit for attending any other type of session.

Students are told if they don’t get to the minimum number of concert credits, it will affect their final mark by a full letter grade — meaning an A mark would drop to a B.

As well, Barnard told the board of governors professors in the music faculty were also given a workshop on the two policies during their faculty retreat Sept. 9.

University spokesman John Danakas said the sessions — and numerous meetings in the weeks after with students on the faculty’s student association — are because the university "is committed to a respectful environment."

"The university condemns sexual harassment. The university wants to ensure we provide the best environment for students," he said Monday.

Danakas said the concert credit was given for the session "as an encouragement to attend."

When asked why the university would issue a concert credit for a non-concert, Danakas said: "The concert credit was earned... most of the students (in the faculty) were in attendance. It was a good beginning session.

"The program encourages engagement. The faculty leadership felt it was important to recognize the high level of engagement demonstrated by the students. These are matters that are taken seriously by the university and it is important to the university that student voices are listened to and help inform policies moving forward."

Kirby quietly retired from the U of M in June, after sexual-harassment allegations had come forward. His departure only became public when the Free Press reported on it.

Kirby, who spent 14 years as a professor in the university’s jazz studies program, left after a female student complained to the institution he had sexually harassed her, along with a later investigation into the allegations which the school later found "had merit".

Shortly after, it was confirmed Kirby had been hired by the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston to teach music composition.

However, after the Free Press brought the past allegations to Berklee’s attention, Kirby was suspended following an investigation. Earlier this month, the investigation concluded and Kirby was fired.

After the allegations became known, Daniel Jordan, a member of the Winnipeg folk trio Red Moon Road, told the Free Press he had been bullied by Kirby while enrolled in the university’s music program. As a protest against what he believes is an inadequate apology by the university to the female students reportedly harassed by Kirby, Jordan returned his music degree.

As well, jazz pianist and composer Michelle Gregoire, who grew up in Manitoba and spent the first decades of her music career in the province, told the Free Press the reason she uprooted her life and career to go Calgary was due to bullying by Kirby.

"My impression was my gender was an issue for him," she said earlier this month. "He clearly saw me as a female... It was clear to me he could not look past my gender and that may be why he bullied me."

Gregoire said the bullying included character assassination and belittling her, but did not involve anything sexual.

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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