The relationship between university teaching staff and students under their instruction, supervision or mentorship is characterized by an imbalance of power. It is a relationship of trust and authority. As such, members of the teaching staff must conduct themselves according to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in their engagements with students.
McGill students are, for the most part, of the age of majority and thus, have the right to, and are legally capable of, consenting to intimate or sexual encounters with any other adult. Nevertheless, consensual intimacy between students and those who can exercise an influence over their academic success is a matter of concern to the University and warrants institutional oversight, since such situations give rise to conflicts of interests and can easily place students in vulnerable circumstances, compromising their wellbeing or academic success.
Accordingly, the Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Teaching Staff-Student Intimate Relationships (“the Committee”) is struck to explore and make recommendations to Senate on how McGill University ought to address, from a policy perspective, teaching staff-student relationships. It shall:
- Conduct an environmental scan and benchmark analysis that includes a review of approaches within Canadian and AAU institutions;
- Consult relevant McGill stakeholder groups, notably the teaching staff and student associations;
- Consult the wider McGill community through multiple formats (e.g., surveys, focus groups, interviews);
- Consult and collaborate, as appropriate, with the Committee for the Implementation of the Policy against Sexual Violence and the Ad Hoc Panel to Conduct a Campus Study of Sexual Violence;
- Assess whether McGill’s current policy approach – through:
is appropriate and, if not, indicate where shortcomings lie;
- Make policy recommendations for the University, ensuring consistency with applicable law, notably, the requirement  that McGill’s Policy against Sexual Violence:
“…include a code of conduct specifying the rules that a person who is in a teaching relationship with or a relationship of authority over a student must comply with if the person has an intimate relationship, such as an amorous or sexual relationship, with the student.
“The code of conduct must include a framework aimed at avoiding any situation where such relationships could coexist if such a situation might affect the objectivity and impartiality required in the teaching relationship or relationship of authority or might encourage an abuse of power or sexual violence.”
- Make recommendations as to modes for enhancing awareness and understanding of University policy in this area;
- Operate, reach decisions, and make recommendations on the basis of consensus.
The Committee shall meet at least monthly between 1 June 2018 and 30 November 2018 and shall produce a final report by 1 December 2018. This report shall be presented at the December 2018 meeting of Senate.
Chair: Senior Equity & Inclusion Advisor
8 members appointed by Senate, as follows:
- 6 members:
- 3 members of the academic staff
- 3 students
- 2 alternate student members (who may substitute for a student member when the latter cannot be present at meetings of the Committee)
- General Counsel (or delegate)
- Associate Provost (Equity & Academic Policies)
- Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support & Education
Source: Senate Minute IIB2, May 16, 2018
- Ms. Julie Lassonde, Senior Equity & Inclusion Officer
Members of the Academic Staff:
- Professor Debra Titone (Psychology, SCIENCE)
- Professor Jean-Jacques Lebrun (Medicine, MEDICINE)
- Professor Brian Lewis (History and Classical Studies, ARTS)
- Ms. Safina Adatia
- Ms. Bee Khaleeli
- Ms. Naomi Vingron
Alternate Student members:
- Ms. Harmehr Sekhon
- Mr. Ilies Tazi