by Amy Sharaf
Anonymous posters taped in Kerr Hall East are alleging “sexual interactions” between an unidentified social work professor and students.
A poster found in a women’s washroom stall in Kerr Hall East on Friday is urging students to contact a hotmail address if they have any information about inappropriate language or behaviour of a professor.
Concerns were allegedly raised on Ratemyprofessor.ca, a popular site where students can submit ratings and comments about their instructors.
The person behind the posters declined a request for an interview and the school of social work had no comment. For privacy reasons, Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services would not confirm or deny if an official complaint was filed.
Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said students should speak to university authorities if they have complaints. He added that the school of social work is also respecting privacy concerns by not commenting.
“I think what you’re hearing here is a school (social work) that wants to take the right path and can’t commit to anything both from a legal stance as well as because of the agreement they signed with the (Ryerson Faculty Association).”
Bruce Piercey, a spokesperson for Ryerson, said he was informed of the posters on Tuesday. He said it is against university policy to comment directly about complaints received.
“The university takes these kinds of issues seriously. That’s why we have a very rigorous and systematic set of procedures for dealing with these things,” he said. “We respect the privacy of everyone involved.”
Anthony Hutchinson, a social work professor, said: “I have no comment on this kind of bullshit… these kinds of things happen and you know, what do you say right? You can’t say anything.” He added later that the person shouldn’t be putting up posters.
“Whoever’s posting those things should get charged,” he said. “If people are doing these kinds of things … you shouldn’t be doing this kind of stuff.”
Third-year social work student Yasmine Abaza, 19, said she did not have “a remote clue, not any suspicion, not anything” about inappropraite behaviour any of her professors.
Second-year social work student Krystina Nickerson, 21, agreed.
“You hope it’s not someone in social work cause they’re supposed to have these morals that they’re preaching to us,” she said.
“(If it’s true) it’s not only a break of the social work ethic, its also a violation of the professor-student relationship.”
Nickerson questioned the credibility of the comments on Ratemyprofessor.ca, saying the site could become a venting ground for professor-bashing.
Robin Cairins, 19, a first-year student said the idea of a social worker behaving inappropriately is an “oxymoron” and thinks the posters could be fake.
“If it’s a crank, it’s an absolutely horrible way of doing it. Being skeptical, I really couldn’t see that in this course.”
“That shocks me,” said first-year social work student Sarah Heys, 17. “I didn’t think of my profs as people who would do sexual things or make comments. I haven’t seen it, or heard anything.”
Nickerson said the anonymity of the person behind the poster could be a problem.
“If no one knows who the prof is and no one knows who the student is, nothing can be done.”