Home » TheSWEducator » TRU Investigation: What do we know, and what actions are needed?

TRU Investigation: What do we know, and what actions are needed?

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

On Wednesday, November 24th, when I finished preparing my lecture for social policy class, I decided to check Facebook private messages, as my phone was buzzing. I received several requests from my colleagues and friends who read newspaper articles, watched CBC, and listened to local radio about the TRU investigation. The messages came as far as from Australia with questions: Have you read this?

After the class, when I read and listened to all messages, I was able to find more information about the TRU investigation online and here is what I have found:

Jessica Wallace from Kamloops This Week provided extensive coverage of the investigation process:

·       TRU investigation: Waiving NDAs a victory for complainants Nov 23, 2021 10:00 PM

·       TRU investigation: University responds to query from KTW on probe Nov 23, 2021 10:06 PM

·       TRU investigation: University board probing complaint against two senior executives Nov 23, 2021 10:14 PM

·       TRU president sends letter to faculty, staff about investigation of complaint against senior executives Nov 24, 2021 3:22 PM

·       TRU Faculty Association, support staff union respond to Investigation of complaint against senior executives Nov 24, 2021 3:41 PM

The investigation was also covered by Radio NLThe ProvinceAldergrove StarCFJCCASTANETUniversity AffairsMaple Ridge NewsThe New Zealand Times,

Daybreak Kamloops with Shelley Joyce offers two segments. One aired on November 24th, on “TRU investigating behaviours of two senior leaders at the University.” The segment presents the allegations in a formal letter of complaint directed at two senior-level administrators from a dozen former and current employees and faculty members at Thompson Rivers University, making claims of bullying and harassment. The second, “Reaction continues to allegations against two TRU administrators”, is a follow-up with many reactions to the original story alleging misconduct by two senior administrators at Thompson Rivers University. After watching and listening to 30 minutes of people sharing concerns about the TRU work environment on the radio, it is becoming clear that the investigation will affect everyone who is connected to TRU in Kamloops, BC, Canada and internationally.

Millions of people will wait to hear the internal investigation results and how TRU addresses these allegations. There are allegations of anti-Indigenous racism, bullying behaviour, and sexual harassment, as the news has been broadcast in Canada and worldwide. More stories have emerged and are shared publicly and privately, and the nature and scope of allegations are expanding.

CBC warns its readers that the story contains distressing details before introducing the article on harassment, bullying, racism allegations against two senior leaders at B.C. university under investigation. When kids experience bullying and need help, they are advised to call or text  (877) 352-4497 or email Support Team 24/7/365 at: Support@BullyingCanada.ca. Adult bullying is also a thing. One can check seven tips for how to deal with being bullied as an adult. 

The news is triggering. Anyone who has experienced abuse of power, misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, ableism, ageism, bullying, harassment, neglect and other forms of violence can be re-traumatized by the news. Thank you to everyone who had needed support at this time to speak up, share the truth, and seek justice. I believe social justice will prevail, and those who abuse power in their roles will find a way to recognize the harm they do to individuals, groups, and their communities and be held accountable for their actions/inactions. I also hope the university leadership, current and future, will recognize that the truth will come up one day. There is a lot of work ahead to rebuild the relationships with everyone affected by the news. Trying to silence people by keeping those who are under investigation in power is unacceptable. Survivors of power abuse know that silence and inaction prolong the violence.  

The TRU president and chair of the Board of Governors reminded that the university’s reputation might be in jeopardy.  TRU faculty, staff, students, current and alumni, locally and globally, want TRU values, mission, and vision statements to be practiced. Yes, TRU‘s  reputation is in jeopardy, and inaction of those who have the power to act will create more distrust and will require a lot of time to rebuild relationships that were harmed.

There is no more time to keep silencing people. It is time to act. First, those under investigation must be on paid leave to allow everyone to speak up without fear of retaliation. Then, investigators have a lot of work to listen to stories from those who are willing to share and recommend ways to move forward. The world is watching now. Those who experienced abuse of power need to have a way to address injustices they have experienced as the current system cannot be trusted with so many people raising concerns that have gone unanswered. Even one is too many for a university that has the vision to become: “Community-minded with a global conscience, we boldly redefine the university as a place of belonging.”

Current faculty, students and staff, alumni, donors, TRU local and global communities need to keep the pressure on the university administration to uphold TRU’s vision and mission. It is critical to create processes that protect survivors of abuse and challenge injustices, fight against bullying,  harassment and other forms of workplace violence. Current TRU processes are not working, and local and global media are now involved in bringing the needed changes at TRU.

People who benefit from the decisions of those who abuse power need to be reminded that the truth will come up one day. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes fifteen years, 150 years or more/less, but future generations will know who practiced /shared love, and care with others and who abused power and focused on self-interest and interests for those in power.

As Elder Benakonda Kennedy-Kish Bell from the Centre of Indigegogy at Wilfrid Laurier University shared in the recent retreat I attended, the “kind honesty” is required to bring the needed change and achieve the stated vision and mission. Thank you to all who practice kind honesty. Together we can find a way TRU can accomplish its mission and vision.

As I close this post, I hope that every survivor of workplace bullying, harassment and violence find a way to seek truth and justice, and their voice will not be silenced by those who have the power to address the concerns. Through the broad TRU community, I hope to show our youth, students, and future generations how to practice TRU values. Toxic silence and inaction from those who hold power should stop.

For those seeking support after reading this post, here are some of the links that might be helpful:

TRU Students can access the following services on campus:

Wellness Center: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/wellness.html

Counselling Services: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/counselling.html

Multi-Faith Chaplaincy: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/chaplaincy.html

Sexualized Violence and Response: https://www.tru.ca/current/wellness/sexual-violence.html

All members of the TRU Community might have access to support and guidance under the institutional Sexualized Violence policy (BRD 25-0).

Respectful Workplace and Harassment Prevention, BRD 17-0 https://www.tru.ca/__shared/assets/BRD_17-0_Respectful_Workplace_and_Harassment_Prevention47390.pdf  

The list of Sexual Assault Centres, Crisis Lines, and Support Services across Canada:

Please feel free to add your resources to support workplace violence survivors, as support services offered within the workplace might be unacceptable and unsafe for victims of power abuse.

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