Brock University controversy

Brock University, and former professor, David Schimmelpenninck, have caused quite a stir as of late.

Schimmelpenninck encountered scrutiny in 2016 when a CBC news investigation revealed that “Brock had warned a former student to keep quiet about an internal investigation that determined Schimmelpenninck gave her alcohol and tried to force himself on her sexually,” a Monday CBC article said.

It recently came to light that Schimmelpenninck would be returning to Brock this month after a three-year absence to resume teaching.

On Dec. 14, 2018, a decision from a labour arbitrator “concluded that Schimmelpenninck should be allowed to return to the classroom ‘pursuant to the university’s collective agreement with its faculty association,’ the university’s administration said in a statement emailed to CBC Jan. 3,” the CBC article said.

The university claimed Schimmelpenninck consented to the implementation of specific conditions upon his return to Brock to teach.

Brock Press writer Isabelle Cropper also dedicated an article to Schimmelpenninck, titled “Professor David Schimmelpenninck: you need to resign.” In the article, Cropper outlines the timeline of events associated with accusations directed towards Schimmelpenninck:

“In January 2014, Schimmelpenninck sexually assaulted a student in an incident she said involved “kissing and groping.” In March of 2014, the student took her complaint to (then) Brock president Jack Lightstone. The student met with Lightstone twice in and around March of 2014, where professor Tim Conley and Brock counsellor Rebecca Boucher were present, in addition to someone from human rights and human resources in the second meeting. Lightstone pushed the student to make an informal complaint so that there would be no paper trail.

Another incident occurred in October 2014 involving a different student. Schimmelpenninck met his students at the local campus bar after his class for drinks, and then invited a female and male student to his office after the bar closed for more alcohol. When the male student went home, the female student was left alone with her professor, who then sat down next to the student — which led to an “unwelcome sexual advance, inappropriate physical touching, comments of a sexual nature, and a provocative comment attempting to arrange ongoing intimacy,” according to previous reports.

The incident did not come to light until 2016 — while the school did launch an independent investigation into the incident in October 2014. The investigation was conducted by a lawyer hired by Brock, and after the conclusion of the investigation, Brock warned the student repeatedly in emails the results were confidential.

The student from the second incident went to the CBC with her story in March of 2016 after Schimmelpenninck continued to teach despite the results of the investigation.”

Brock students and members of the university community were outraged over the news of Schimmelpenninck’s reinstatement at Brock. The university issued the following statement on Wednesday:

“Brock University has cancelled the Winter 2019 Term History course that was to have been taught by David Schimmelpenninck.

Given that this a personnel matter, the University cannot comment further at this time.

The University takes very seriously the right of every member of the Brock community to work and study in a respectful and safe environment. Brock will be accelerating the previously scheduled review of its Sexual Violence and Harassment Policy.

The University respects the many students and individuals who have expressed their views in a constructive and thoughtful manner.”

As a Brock graduate, I can say with complete honesty that I have never been less proud to be an alumnus of this university. It is evident that Brock needs to improve its sexual assault and harassment policy, and further address issues similar to this in the future with responsibility and urgency.

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