Statement from the Alumni Association Executive regarding charges against Dr. Wayne Hankey

Statement from the Alumni Association Executive regarding charges against Dr. Wayne Hankey

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

Dear fellow alumni,

As you know, in February President Lahey announced the university would conduct an independent review into a criminal charge of sexual assault brought against retired professor Dr. Hankey, based on an incident that is reported to have occurred in a King’s residence in 1988. I encourage all alumni to read the terms of reference for the review. The scope was purposely made broad. Two additional charges have now been laid and there have been articles in the media that have been difficult for alumni (and everyone) to read. In this context, we wish to assure everyone that the scope of the review is broad enough to include these additional matters.

President Lahey discussed the terms of reference with all constituency groups at King’s. That consultation included the Alumni Association Executive. The Executive applaud the independent review and its proposed terms. We also strongly endorse the choice to select Janice Rubin and her firm. The Executive appreciates the way the university has consulted with us and we look forward to sharing continuing updates with you.

Above all, we respect the brave individuals who have put their trust in the justice system. The independent review will allow that process to follow its natural course without interference.

There is pain among some members of our community. We can feel angry, sad and conflicted as we come to understand, or be reminded, that the university we know and love, the place formative to our development and our lasting friendships, where we felt challenged, encouraged and supported, appears to have failed some of us in a fundamental way. To one degree or another, we wonder if there is something we can do?

Our purpose for writing is two-fold. We want to show support for the action of the university in establishing an independent review, and we want to remind everyone that there is something we can do. Whatever we want to say about this situation, we can share it confidentially with Janice Rubin. Let her judge what is and is not relevant to her inquiry, remembering that her terms of reference give her the independent authority to make findings and recommendations, “On any other matter arising from the Review on which the Review decides to make findings, recommendations or findings and recommendations.” Her email again is: ukings@rubinthomlinson.com.

Additionally, we are encouraged by changes that have been underway at King’s in recent years. With assistance and urging from the Students’ Union, King’s now has a sexualized violence policy that is far more robust than the policies that existed before 2018. King’s also has a Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer. These recent steps signal to the whole community that King’s is committed to addressing sexualized violence, harassment or bullying with seriousness and determination.

A resource that may be helpful for those who are trying to find ways to support others, navigate the impacts of these conversations themselves, and meet the understandable urge to “do something” in the wake of the last four months is Break the Silence NS. One of their offerings is a six-part online training that can help people “learn more about sexual violence and how to support someone who has survived it.” While some of the content is specific to Nova Scotia the majority is applicable to everyone, no matter where you are. Educating ourselves on how to talk about sexualized violence, support survivors, interrupt harm when we see it, and how to build consent culture is an important step anyone can take if they are looking for ways to act.

The Alumni Association’s mission has always been to support King’s and each other. Let us be patient for the results of this review and let us not allow it to end without making our contributions to it. We may be able to help in ways we cannot presently or individually judge.

Thank you.

Paul Thomson BA ’90
President of the King’s Alumni Association

Voting members of the Alumni Association Executive:
Vice-President, Ian Whytock, BA’10;
Treasurer, Stuart Pattillo, BA’05
Secretary, Adria Young, BA(Hons)’10
Victor Bomers, BSc (Hons)’09
Rachael Cadman, BA(Hons)’13
Ben Kates, BA(Hons)’04
Andrew MacDonald, BJ(Hons)’99
Jennifer MacLeod, BA’78
Stephanie McGrath, BJ(Hons)’99
Beth McNeil, BA’13
Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, BJ’02

Past President, Jen Laurette, BA’01
KSU President, Nick Harri

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