A message from Principal Goldbloom

A message from Principal Goldbloom

Dear parents and alumni,

Some parents and alumni have written to me to express their concerns about reports of sexual aggression at Bishop’s and have asked about what we have done and what we will do to address this situation.

It takes a lot of courage for survivors to share their stories. We are listening carefully to them, and we will continue to support them.

It has been very painful to hear from some students that there are times when they do not feel safe on campus and do not feel supported by the University.

Any form of sexual aggression on our campus and in our community is unacceptable and we are working to eradicate it.

Our legal and moral obligation is to ensure a study and work environment free from any form of violence or harassment.

There must be zero tolerance for violence and harassment at Bishop’s.

We are privileged to have our Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Stine Linden-Andersen, leading the University’s efforts to improve how we address sexual aggression at Bishop’s. Dr. Linden-Andersen, earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and has instituted a pro-active, survivor-centred, and prevention-based approach. For five years, she has demonstrated principled and considered leadership engaging students, faculty, and staff in developing and implementing important new measures at the University. I am grateful to her and have the greatest confidence in her and the changes she continues to bring forth.

However, I have also heard the clear message from our students that we need to do more, and as Principal at Bishop’s, I am accountable for ensuring that we do.

Statements of support and expressions of good intent matter, but the actions of our administration and of our community will be what matter most.

Each of us has the responsibility of being an active bystander equipped and ready to intervene to prevent sexual aggression.

As a University, we rely on several strategies to combat and address the consequences of sexual violence.

First, we aim to educate ourselves and the community. For the last several years, the University has offered several educational activities concerning sexual violence. Notably, ‘Active Bystander Intervention’ training and the ‘Can I Kiss You?’ consent presentation are mandatory for all first-year students during their first week on campus. The online training module ‘It Takes All of Us’ is mandatory for students, faculty and staff. This program strives to increase awareness of sexual violence in order to help shift campus culture to one of respect and consent, and to create a community free of sexual violence.

Second, we have instituted concrete actions intended to prevent sexual violence. Our Security team is trained in responding to sexual violence on campus and is present day and night seven days a week. We continue to work closely with them to ensure any survivors who disclose acts of sexual aggression are accompanied and guided to the supports available to them.

We also work closely with our local police to help keep our community safe. On nights featuring big events, the Student Services team and student peer supporters install safety tents on and off campus as safe places to reach out immediately for support. The SafeWalk program, which provides accompaniment in walking across the campus and in town, and the lighting installed on the bike path are among the other sexual violence prevention tools.

Third, we support the survivors. The University’s full-time Sexual Aggression Response Coordinator works closely with the other counselors to provide support. The University also has processes for survivors of sexual violence to report these criminal acts in a safe environment designed to protect survivors’ privacy.

There are three levels of reporting of sexual violence:

  1. A confidential disclosure, which can result in immediate implementation of accommodations ranging from academic supports to no-contact orders or temporary removal of the alleged aggressor from campus;
  2. A formal complaint process to request an investigation, which can result in sanctions up to and including expulsion of an aggressor;
  3. A complaint to the police which can result in criminal proceedings.

We inform survivors of their options and accompany and support them along whichever avenue they choose.

We have organized two Town Hall meetings to discuss concrete actions and proposals for improvements of existing policies and practices. The first was held on Tuesday, November 9 and the second was held on Wednesday, November 24. In addition, a group of students presented their concerns to the Board of Governors. The presentation to the Board was followed by a meeting of those students, the executive of the Sexual Culture Committee, the President of the Students’ Representative Council, the Dean of Student Affairs and myself.

A number of concrete actions have been implemented in response to these meetings:

  1. An independent investigator has been appointed to receive information about the statements on the bridge and to review how they have been handled;
  2. The Board of Governors has established a Committee of board members, students, faculty and staff to review and make recommendations concerning:
    1. the independent investigator’s report;
    2. our policies, practices and procedures intended to prevent sexual violence; and
    3. our policies, practices and procedures in receiving disclosures of sexual aggression, support for survivors and sanctioning of aggressors.

The Board committee, which will be chaired by the Vice-Chair of the Board, Cathy McLean ’82, will report to the Board at each meeting and its final report will be shared with the community.

  1. Revisions to our Policy for the Prevention Sexual Violence, which have been developed over the last year, will be presented for approval at the Board meeting in December.

We will continue to inform the community about how we are working to eradicate sexual aggression in a forthright and transparent way.

Our work will require determined leadership from the University administration, faculty, staff, and students.

I am convinced that we have the capacity to make Bishop’s a safer place if we work together with urgency, determination, and respect.


Michael Goldbloom, C.M.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor