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Action Plan for a Culture of Consent & Respect: Response to the Rubin Thomlinson Interim Report

Action Plan for a Culture of Consent & Respect: Response to the Rubin Thomlinson Interim Report

The Independent Review commissioned by King’s in February 2021 and conducted by Janice Rubin of Rubin Thomlinson LLP,  is dual purpose:

    • the first purpose is to determine the facts and an appropriate response to the historic incidents that led to the charges against retired Professor Wayne Hankey. This report is expected in the fall of 2022;
    • the second purpose of the Independent Review is to make recommendations on the steps King’s must take to ensure it provides a safe environment for all members of its community in accordance with the commitments it has made in its Sexualized Violence Awareness and Response Policy.

This page is a resource for key documents relating to the Independent Review and a hub for communications about the university’s progress toward the initiatives described in the Action Plan for a Culture of Consent & Respect: Response to the Rubin Thomlinson Interim Report, developed by King’s in response to the Interim Report and approved August 31, 2022.

 

September 6, 2022 - Action Plan for a Culture of Consent & Respect: Response to the Rubin Thomlinson Interim Report

Warning: the following communication discusses sexualized violence and criminal charges of sexual assault.

Dear King’s community,

In February 2021, the University of King’s College announced it would commission an Independent Review into the facts surrounding charges of sexual assault brought against retired Professor Wayne Hankey and King’s responsibilities in light of those facts. In March of that year, Janice Rubin of Rubin Thomlinson LLP was appointed to conduct the Independent Review and the Terms of Reference were made public. With the matter then before the courts, King’s and Rubin Thomlinson committed to conduct the Review in a manner respectful of the criminal justice system.

Following the death of Professor Hankey in February 2022, King’s reiterated its commitment to the Independent Review.

The Independent Review is dual purpose:

  • the first purpose is to determine the facts and an appropriate response to the historic incidents that led to the charges against Wayne Hankey. This report is expected in the fall term;
  • the second purpose of the Independent Review is to make recommendations on the steps King’s must take to ensure it provides a safe environment for all members of its community in accordance with the commitments it has made in its Sexualized Violence Awareness and Response Policy.

On May 20 of this year, King’s received an Interim Report from Rubin Thomlinson that addresses the second purpose of the Independent Review. The Report contains “the measures King’s should take to ensure King’s is a safe community that supports the survivors and victims of sexual violence, and also responds effectively and accountably to sexualized violence in ways that are survivor/victim-centered.” These measures are outlined in 10 recommendations addressing culture, campus life, policy and procedure at King’s, as each of these may affect, and be affected by, sexualized violence.

The message to all members of the King’s community issued alongside the Interim Report on May 31 unequivocally accepted all recommendations and this was the beginning of the university’s response.

In further response, today King’s has published the Action Plan for a Culture of Consent and Respect (“the Action Plan”).

The Action Plan was developed by King’s Sexual Health & Safety Officer Jordan Roberts and Dean of Students Katie Merwin with the support of President William Lahey and Vice-President Dr. Sarah Clift. Further insights and information were gained through recent, direct consultation with constituencies including current students and alumni.

The Action Plan references efforts and cultural shifts at King’s that precede the Independent Review process. These include the creation of the role of Sexual Health & Safety Officer at King’s, the development of King’s Sexualized Violence Policy and collaborations across the post-secondary sector through the Provincial Sexual Violence Prevention Committee. King’s understands that the change called for in the Interim Report must go deeper than the development of policies, plans and offices; it must be more pervasive than the work already begun. As stated in the Action Plan’s Introduction, “What is called for is a fundamental change in our culture and a deep reckoning with our past.”

King’s publishes this Action Plan as a living document. To approach the work of fundamental change and deep reckoning in good faith, the University proceeds knowing that its understanding of this work and the resources we have to pursue it will strengthen with time. To ensure transparency, updates to this plan tracking our progress will be made regularly.

The ethos we embrace at King’s is to live and learn in community. We will live this work and learn from this work together. This document is one step in the process and signals a great step forward, one that will undoubtedly make the King’s community stronger.

Sincerely,

William Lahey
President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law

Sarah Clift
Vice-President

Jordan Roberts
Sexual Health and Safety Officer

Katie Merwin
Dean of Students

May 31, 2022 - Interim Report Released

Warning: the following communication discusses sexualized violence and criminal charges of sexual assault.

Dear King’s community,

Following charges of sexual assault brought against retired professor Wayne Hankey in February 2021, the University of King’s College announced it would commission an independent review of the facts of the matter, then before the courts, and of King’s responsibilities in light of those facts.

In March 2021, King’s announced that Janice Rubin at Rubin Thomlinson LLP would conduct the Independent Review and the terms of the review were made public. In a statement following the death of Wayne Hankey in February 2022, King’s reiterated its commitment to the Independent Review, which was always separate from any criminal justice matters.

The Independent Review is dual purpose and is to be released in two parts. The first purpose is to determine the facts and an appropriate response to the historic incidents that led to the charges against Wayne Hankey. We expect this report in September.

The second purpose of the Independent Review is to make recommendations on the steps King’s must now take to ensure it provides a safe environment for all members of its community in accordance with the commitments it has made in its Sexualized Violence Awareness and Response Policy. On Friday, May 20, King’s received an Interim Report from Rubin Thomlinson dealing with this part of the Independent Review. As promised in the terms of reference of the Independent Review, it is now on our website.

We thank the many who contributed to the work of Rubin Thomlinson LLP in preparing this Interim Report, King’s students, alumni, faculty and staff alike. There was robust participation from each of these groups in the survey conducted by Rubin Thomlinson and in the large number of follow up interviews they conducted. We acknowledge that many of the participants will have recalled and discussed information and experiences that would have been difficult to share. Thank you for doing this. King’s must act on the Interim Report in the fulsome way that will honour the trust and faith you placed in the Independent Review.

The information shared with Rubin Thomlinson shows that many members of our community have experienced sexualized violence or vulnerability to sexualized violence without having the protection and support they should have been provided. To all of these members of our community, we are sorry. We must address the ways in which King’s has failed you. To accomplish this, we will intensify our work that began in 2018 with the adoption of our Sexualized Violence Awareness, Prevention and Response Policy, enhancing the scope of this work to include the recommendations proposed in the Interim Report.

Today, the university unequivocally accepts all recommendations set forth in the Interim Report. To guide our adoption of these recommendations, King’s is developing a comprehensive action plan under the shared leadership of Jordan Roberts, King’s Sexual Health and Safety Officer, and Dean of Students Katie Merwin, both of whom are already at the forefront of contributing to our institutional change. Advice on the action plan will be taken from the university’s Sexualized Violence Policy Implementation Advisory Committee and all appropriate discussions within our governance processes will occur, including with King’s faculty on recommendations that concern faculty. All of this work will be for the purpose of determining how the recommendations of this Interim Report can be most effectively and fully implemented with urgency.

It should be noted that Rubin Thomlinson presented a preliminary summary of their Interim Report to various university constituencies in March, to solicit feedback on their preliminary findings and recommendations. Work on our action plan has been in progress since those presentations in anticipation of our receipt of the Interim Report.

When the action plan is finalized, it will be published on the King’s website with regular reports on the progress of its implementation. Today, the website is simply used to share the Interim Report as expeditiously as possible.

While an action plan is necessary, we understand that more is required than policy, procedures and sharing information on the university’s website. What is called for is a fundamental change in our culture and a deep reckoning with our past. We have started that process of change, but we must recognize we have a long way to go and that it is the responsibility of the university as a whole and not of those who have individualized experiences with, and vulnerabilities to, sexualized violence to take the lead role in this work.

Throughout this work, the University of King’s College will be steadfast in its commitment to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone, one that is free of discrimination, harassment and all forms of violence.

Sincerely,

William Lahey
President, Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Law

Sarah Clift
Vice-President

Jordan Roberts
Sexual Health and Safety Officer

Katie Merwin
Dean of Students

Background of the Independent Review

Warning: the following communication discusses sexualized violence and criminal charges of sexual assault.

Background of the Independent Review

In February 2021, the Halifax Regional Police announced that retired Dalhousie and University of King’s College member of faculty Professor Wayne Hankey was facing criminal charges tied to a claim of historic sexual assault. Subsequently King’s President William Lahey released a statement on behalf of the University that was sent to students and alumni, faculty and staff, to make the community aware of the charges. In this statement, President Lahey committed to an independent review into the matter, “conducted in a way that is respectful of the criminal justice system and allows it to run its course.” This course of action was determined following consultations with King’s Students’ Union, faculty representatives and the executives of the Alumni Association and the Board of Governors.

The announcement further stated the University’s commitment to provide “a safe and supportive environment for everyone,” and encouraged members of the community to seek support as needed from resources offering confidential support including King’s Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer (now Sexual Health & Safety Officer). With the charges then before the courts, President Lahey clarified that no further comment would be offered. In the months since then, the commissioning and support of this independent review have formed the cornerstone of the University’s response to the charges laid against Professor Hankey.

In March 2021, King’s announced that Toronto lawyer Janice Rubin and her firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP had been appointed to conduct the independent review. The Terms of Reference of the Independent Review, published at the same time, clarified its mandate and scope:

“In addition to determining the facts of the 1988 incident on a civil law standard and making recommendations based on those findings on actions that should be taken by the University in relation to that incident, the purpose of the Review is to make recommendations on: the learning King’s should take from the matters within the scope of the Review; the measures King’s should take to ensure King’s is a safe community that supports the survivors and victims of sexual violence, and also responds effectively and accountably to sexualized violence in ways that are survivor/victim-centered.”

Shortly thereafter, the University sent a letter on behalf of Rubin Thomlinson LLP to its database of alumni, students, faculty and staff, and published the letter to the University website. The letter invited anyone with information relevant to the mandate of the review to contact Ms. Rubin at a dedicated email address hosted on the law firm’s server.

When additional criminal charges were laid against Professor Wayne Hankey in April 2021, President Lahey confirmed that the new charges, along with claims made in a recent newspaper article would be addressed within the scope of the Independent Review.

Professor Hankey died in February 2022, shortly before the first criminal trial of charges against him was scheduled to take place. President Lahey wrote to inform students, alumni, faculty and staff of Professor Hankey’s death and confirmed that this would not affect Rubin Thomlinson’s ongoing Independent Review.

In May 2022, King’s published the Interim Report from Rubin Thomlinson LLP. The Interim Report recommends steps King’s must take to ensure it provides a safe environment for all members of its community in accordance with the commitments it has made in its Sexualized Violence Awareness and Response Policy. These recommendations and the steps King’s plans to take in response follow.

The Final Report of the Independent Review is intended to determine the facts of the incident(s) that led to criminal charges against Professor Hankey and to assess these on a civil law standard. The Final Report will also make recommendations based on those findings on actions that should be taken by the University in relation to the incident(s). King’s is expecting to receive this report in the fall term of 2022.