Sunday, March 6, 2016

McGill's Shame Continues

Really?  Back at it again? I have repeated referred to a particular serial sexual harasser in McGill's Political Science department, but obliquely so.  Why obliquely so?  Because I am not sure what the consequences are for me of violating the confidentiality agreements of a place I used to work and because I didn't want people to speculate about who received this guy's unwanted attention. 

Well, I just learned as a result of this post this morning that the same guy is back at it.  When he was caught during my time there, only a few faculty knew.  They may have wondered why he got moved out of his office in a remote location and put next to my office.  I apparently was supposed to babysit/monitor him (which was strange since I only learned of his behavior informally, not through the administration).  But that was temporary, apparently, as I left and the next guy in that office probably didn't know that oversight of this guy came with the office (and I think the harasser moved back to his remote location where he can predate without oversight). His ban of supervising grad students apparently has lapsed as well.  When I was on grad admissions, I tried to keep students who wanted to do Mideast or peacebuilding from coming to McGill because I had little confidence that they would stay away from him.

Yes, most of the students knew because word gets around, but there was no guarantee that the word would keep being shared over time and all it takes is for a new student to have a few interactions with a serial harasser to have their trust in the institution and in academia irrevocably broken ... especially when the institution knows but does little.

The confidentiality that is thrown over the situation means that the prof in question appears to get away with it--those who know he commits these acts again and again do not see any consequences and those who don't know think nothing of it, perhaps even referring students to him if they develop an interest in Mideast politics and/or peacebuilding.

There, alas, is no internet trail to follow (there was once a post on Rate my prof about him but it disappeared) ....

Anyhow, as I have said before, if you have students or are a student thinking of going to McGill's political science program, I'd be willing to be more specific.  It is a great school and a great program with mostly great people, but there is poison within and it continues to remain and it remains under-identified and under-sanctioned.


Anonymous said...

Nice one, Steve! Much respect. This is how we make safe spaces. This is the antidote to the silence and cowardice. You have earned my admiration with this one. And believe me, I know the details all too well.

Madison said...

If the person in question is who I think it is (and it seems pretty obvious given the information you've shared), then I admit I am both surprised and not surprised.
On the one hand, I thought he was one of the most brilliant professors I had in poli sci at McGill. But even brilliant, seemingly nice professors perpetuate sexual harassment.
On the other hand, it reinforces what I learned about the McGill administration while I worked to change the policy on harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination as part of my role in SACOMSS. Repeat offenders often only face real consequences when they become a PR nightmare for the university.

Steve Saideman said...

Repeat offenders face real consequences? That would be a surprise unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Steve!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, as a current McGill undergrad student in the polisci department I had heard nothing but glowing reviews for this professor ... Sad that's he's still teaching at all

Anonymous said...

There's a FB group for a re-haul about McGill sexual harassment policy.

Anonymous said...

If someone decides to look into McGill professors sleeping with their students, the Medical Physics unit is a good place to start. I know for a fact that McGill HR is aware of one or two of these incidences but has deliberately looked the other way. In fact, I believe one individual was promoted following such a relationship.
I still feel sick thinking of my time at McGill. Years later.

Anonymous said...

I too feel sick when I think of my time at McGill and a particular prof in poli sci who continues to get away with his shenanigans from what I understand. In fact McGill trot him out constantly for PR purposes because of his purported good looks (barf...)
There are some REALLY duplicitous creeps running around that place...

Anonymous said...

To the last comment of Oct. 30, 2016, if it is about who I think it is, I agree. He's a full on narcissist and a creeper too. He's a narcissistic predator and he used female students as supply. I don't know if he still does this since he's getting older but in the 1990s and early 2000s, he would target specific girls. He had a new group every year.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. The professor in question went out on a serious limb for me when no one else would, and saved not only my academic life.

That just makes this all the worse, that he would demonstrate such empathy towards one vulnerable student, then turn around and prey on the next.

Anonymous said...

There's a new sexual harassment blog since all the old posts on PSR about sexual harassment at McGill were taken down.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a good start would be for McGill's mental health project, Bridges, by NOT featuring a professor with a history of sexual harassment suddenly talking about mental health resources and trying to come across as some kind of faux-ally.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't Rex Brynen be fired by now?

Anonymous said...

This message was sent out a few days ago to all McGill Students.

Dear Members of the McGill community,

McGill is committed to providing a learning and working environment for all that is respectful, safe, and inclusive. Our University’s efforts in connection with sexual violence prevention and response are critical to delivering on this commitment.

As the fall semester gets underway, I write with an update about these efforts.

Last spring, in addition to establishing new Guidelines on Intimate Relationships between Teaching Staff and Students, I announced that McGill would be appointing a Special Investigator charged with investigating all reports of sexual violence on campus. I am delighted to announce the appointment of Maître Caroline Lemay to this role. Me Lemay’s appointment was made pursuant to a careful process overseen by a small University committee that included representation from the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

Me Lemay is a lawyer and member of the Barreau du Québec and founder of Omega Ombudservices, an entity that works to prevent conflict and promote fairness in organizational settings. Holding a graduate degree in Conflict Prevention and Resolution, she has served for the past 13 years as an independent mediator and investigator for a range of local and international organizations. Her experience has focused on human rights issues in a diversity of contexts, including the Centre for Restorative Justice, Le Regroupement des organismes de justice alternative du Québec, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In each of these settings, Me Lemay has been called upon to work toward achieving fair outcomes that respect the rights and obligations of all those involved.

Me Lemay will spend the first weeks of the Fall term meeting with diverse campus stakeholders. As of October 9, she will be the singular point of entry for any person wishing to make a formal report of sexual violence (as defined by McGill’s Policy against Sexual Violence) against a member of the campus community.

Investigations led by the Special Investigator will:
• Be trauma-informed
• Adhere to the requirements of procedural fairness and, insofar as possible, confidentiality
• Involve interviews of the parties individually (who may each be accompanied by an advisor) and witnesses, and an assessment of all other relevant evidence (e.g., documents, written communications)
• Aim to be completed within 60 days
• Result in a confidential written report setting out findings, which will be sent to the relevant disciplinary officer (Faculty Dean, Dean of Students, or Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies) for disciplinary or other action, where appropriate. Parties to the investigation will be informed of the Special Investigator’s findings and the justification on which these are based, with a view to ensuring that the process is fair, transparent, and protects the interests of the parties.
Maître Lemay can be reached at

Over the Fall term a review of our Policy against Sexual Violence will take place to reflect recent developments on our campus and to ensure adherence to the terms of Bill 151, An Act to prevent and fight sexual violence in higher education institutions.

Reports to Senate will be provided over the fall term from the following bodies:
· Committee for the Implementation of the Policy against Sexual Violence
· Ad Hoc Panel to Conduct a Campus Study of Sexual Violence
· Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Teaching Staff-Student Intimate Relationship

Let me close by thanking you for your ongoing attention to this matter of central importance for our campus.

Professor Christopher Manfredi
Provost & Vice-Principal (Academic)

Anonymous said...

Dear McGill community members,
The Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Teaching Staff-Student Intimate Relationships (“the Committee”) has been convened to “explore and make recommendations to Senate on how McGill University ought to address, from a policy perspective, teaching staff-student relationships.” To fulfill its mandate, the Committee invites all members of the McGill community to provide comments or lived experiences.
The Committee conducted a first phase of consultation in summer 2018 and received a significant number of written submissions. The Committee is now extending the deadline for one-page written submissions to September 25, 2018. The Committee asks that submissions be:
• submitted in writing, in English or French
• maximum one page (the Committee will not read additional pages)
• sent by email to
Submissions will be read by all Committee members but will be otherwise kept confidential by the Committee.
In addition, the Committee invites all McGill students (undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate) to a Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, from 5:00pm – 8:00pm at the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Lounge (Leacock Building Basement – B-12). This venue is wheelchair accessible. This is a McGill student-only event and you will be asked to show your McGill ID at the door.
This Town Hall Meeting will involve a plenary session, followed by focus groups. During the focus groups, student participants will engage with case studies that raise key policy issues relating to the Committee’s mandate. The Committee hopes that the focus groups will encourage students to relate experiences and provide feedback in a safe space. Students will not be asked to identify themselves by name, and no names will be recorded in the Town Hall minutes.
The Committee will take all submissions and Town Hall Meeting notes into account in the context of its work. Should you have any questions, please contact me at
We hope to see you on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at 5pm.
Julie Lassonde
Chair, Ad Hoc Senate Committee on Teaching Staff-Student Intimate Relationships

Anonymous said...

The provost of McGill and the dean of arts are chummy with at least one named harasser and his wife; fat chance anything will happen now.

Anonymous said...

McGill's New Policy against Sexual Violence was posted today.

Some Highlights:
- Romantic and Sexual relationships between profs and students are now officially prohibited (Sad day for you Rex!)

- No Statutes of limitations to report, if something happened to you 10 years ago, you can still report it

- there are clauses for things which were grossly overlooked in the past like stalking and staring