UBC, former student fail to settle human rights complaint

Yesterday, former UBC student Glynnis Kirchmeier, who filed a human rights complaint against the university for its handling of sexual assault reports earlier this year, met with the university in an attempt to resolve the complaint. 

The 90-minute mediation was unsuccessful, as the university and Kirchmeier were unable to reach an agreement.

Neither Kirchmeier nor UBC can disclose what happened during the early settlement meeting due to a confidentiality agreement.

Kirchmeier filed the complaint against UBC with the BC Human Rights Tribunal on March 21 of this year, after what she calls an untimely and inappropriate response to her report concerning behaviour of alleged assailant, Dmitry Mordinvinov.

The complaint was filed from the perspective of both Kirchmeier as an individual and also on the behalf of anyone who has reported an instance of sexual assault, sexual harassment and/or sexual discrimination to the university.

At this time, no further mediations have been planned, but Kirchmeier has not fully closed that window.

“If the university wants to come back to the table, I’m willing to do that,” said Kirchmeier.

As per the BC Human Rights Tribunal's request, the next step in the process will be to collect submissions from both parties concerning whether or not Kirchmeier’s complaint was filed within the time limit of six months after the most recent discriminatory action.

“We agreed that I would not do that until after the mediation, in case the mediation didn’t work,” she said. “Assuming that the tribunal does not get rid of my case at that point, then the university would have to formally respond, in writing, to my complaint.”

According to the BC Human Rights Tribunal's website, the university will also have the option of applying to have the complaint dismissed.

A hearing date will be set by the tribunal after this process, pending a decision to move forward. Kirchmeier estimates that to be approximately one and a half to two years from now.

Kirchmeier has developed 44 recommendations for change, which she feels will lead to a better response from the university on issues of sexual assault, discrimination and harassment. The majority of the recommendations focus on the fact-finding process that occurs after an official complaint is filed with the university, but they also speak to policy, process evaluation, training and policy.

According to Kirchmeier, these recommendations do not veer far from — but are different from — those made by the university sexual assault panel, which conducted a review of university processes and produced a report that was released to the community for consultation last month.

“I do think that in a lot of ways, my recommendations are more specific and more expansive than the panel recommendations ... mainly [regarding] the fact investigation process,” she said.

The university is currently seeking community consultation on a new sexual assault policy, a final version of which is hoped to be put before the Board of Governors in February 2017.

“I think that although it wasn’t settled, it was an opportunity for us to get the measure of each other,” said Kirchmeier on the mediation. “That’s never a bad thing.”