Cut off from the public behind a closed door, Canadore College President George Burton and the Board of Governors held a private meeting Tuesday night, prior to its usual monthly meeting, leaving reporters waiting in a hallway outside.
What the board was not discussing publicly was the recent allegations of harassment, discrimination, and abuse of power made toward a senior member of staff.
BayToday was granted limited access to President Burton, and it was made loud and clear to reporters up front, that questions were limited to the meeting taking place, and there would be little information given relating to the recent allegations.
“We are going to allow due process to unfold, as you’re aware we have a third party investigator conducting that process to present the report to the executive committee, and until such time we will not be making any further comment until we’ve dealt with the findings,” Burton told a collection of North Bay media outlets in a short interview.
A security guard hovered within earshot as the president stated that the timeframe of the investigation will extend back 10 years, and there was no timeline imposed in order to allow for a thorough collection of information. “We’ll continue to deal with the facts once they are uncovered and presented, and until such time everything else is just speculation.”
While Burton contends there is no timeline, sources inside the college say the intakes of new complainants will likely finish by month's end, so people thinking of coming forward should do so shortly.
Investigator Jane Richardson said at the start of her task that if you are an employee, or former employee, of the College you can contact her at email@example.com .
There is also a dedicated confidential phone number (416.469.4354) to allow people to report their complaints of harassment, discrimination, and abuse of power at the College.
When asked if the college was fearing a drop in enrolment due to the recent allegations, Burton admitted that though enrolment is always on the forefront of Canadore’s radar as it plays a big part in funding, he feels prospective students and their parents viewed the allegations as an isolated incident, and that those individuals understand that due process is taking place. According to the president, the negative impact on enrolment due to the recent allegations has not been a concern for Canadore’s Board of Governors to date.
Burton would neither confirm nor deny that the board was considering a leave, whether paid or unpaid, for the senior vice president at the centre of the allegations.
Board Chair Bob Nicholls did not make himself available reporters.
A rally was held recently, calling on Burton to make Canadore a respectful workplace by putting the senior manager on paid leave.
Burton rejected the demand, calling the allegations "'vague and generalized rumours.'"
According to OPSEU, at least 50 people have come forward with complaints of sexual discrimination and abuse of power at the college. Allegations include a manager having sex with his subordinate in college offices.