A faculty member at Cape Breton University has been terminated for demanding sex, moose meat and lobster from a student who was struggling in his course in exchange for better grades.
In an emailed response, university spokeswoman Lenore Parsley didn’t answer questions about the firing, the nature of the offence, details about the employee’s position and whether there had been other complaints about the employee.
“Cape Breton University is committed to a safe and respectful campus for all of our community members,” Parsley said. “Any and all complaints follow a formal process, as indicated in our respectful campus policy.
“We won’t be commenting further.”
But the student who reported the instructor says the university told her two weeks ago that he was being fired, with the right to appeal.
She said she hadn’t been notified of any appeal as of Thursday.
The woman, who doesn’t want to be identified, said she went to university officials Feb. 7 after the employee suggested that they could be “friends with benefits” during an extra-help session he offered to the woman and another female student.
“I had started to become very uncomfortable with some of the questions he was asking, such as how many sexual partners we had, if we had ever done drugs or did crazy partying before,” the woman said in an interview via Facebook.
She said she had brought moose meat and lobster that day for the employee after he asked her to provide it in exchange for better grades. She said she knew it was wrong, but she was struggling with some of his morning quizzes and they counted for a large part of her final grade.
His questions and suggestions left the woman shocked and, she believed, visibly uncomfortable.
“I felt my face was burning,” she said.
After the help session, the employee came out to the woman’s car to get the moose meat and lobster.
When they got to the car, she said he demanded they have sex.
“He claimed I had to do it, as my grades depended on it,” the woman said. “He continued to say ‘Yes you will, you will do it,’ over and over, even though I made it clear to him at this point that I was very uncomfortable.”
She said the instructor suggested they could go to a hotel room or his office in the university, and that no one had to know.
The woman said her first reaction was fear, “because I knew I was not going to sleep with this (instructor), but I also did not want to fail because he made it clear that if I did not (have sex), I would fail. Fear because I was reporting him minutes after the incident happened, and I did not know the outcome.”
She said she also feared his reaction, and that no one would believe her because she had been a student for a month and he had taught for a while.
As soon as the employee was back in the building after getting the moose meat and lobster from her, “I immediately went to the only person who worked at the school that I knew,” the woman said. “I knew that if I didn’t go right away, I would not be able to report him the next day.”
She said that was because “I felt that I would overthink it, I would go home right away and not say a word to anyone out of shame, and I would sleep on it and think of the potential consequences.”
But, she said, CBU took her complaint seriously.
“Within the hour I reported him, I had spoken to the heads of departments, human resources, and student services,” she said. “They were all very supportive. This was a huge deal to them, and they made it very clear to me that they were going to help me through this every step of the way. He was suspended from teaching the next day.”
Coming forward was difficult, she said.
“I had blamed myself for this happening,” she said. “I thought I said too many things, or maybe my clothes were too tight. So, I was ashamed. I felt I had caused this whole thing.
“It was difficult because I thought people would look at me differently, people would look at me like I was weak, like I deserved to be treated this way. Sometimes I wear the T-shirt I was wearing that day and feel very uncomfortable in public.
She said she is “100 per cent glad” she came forward.
“I knew by the way he approached me, how comfortable and demanding he was, and how clear he made his demands that I was not the first he had approached in this way.”
The woman made a social media post about what happened and said many other women contacted her, with most wanting to know the name of the instructor.
She doesn’t want to share his name with anyone, but said some messaged her asking if a set of initials matched his name, and she said they did.
The woman said she is satisfied with the outcome of the case.
“He will never be able to approach any other vulnerable student at the university again,” she said. “I would not return to the school if I had to face him in the hallways.
“The university is a great university with a diverse population and it’s close to home. So yes, I am so pleased with the outcome, because now I can return to school without the fear that I will meet up with him there. “
She said she went to the media because she wants to help other women who may be in a similar situation to know that things can happen if they come forward with complaints, and to provide some advice.
“Do not be ashamed,” she said. “You did not ask for this. The things you’ve said, the clothes you wear, (are) not a valid reason for any (instructor) or anyone, to use his position of power against you in this way.
“Please tell someone, anyone, about what is happening or what has happened.”
She said she asked to be transferred to a different class, but ended up dropping all her courses. As recently as this week, she has had a panic attack because of the experience.
“I was almost asleep and I woke up freaking out thinking he was in my house for some reason,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep for hours after.”