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“Acadia Fag” article investigation completed

Iain Bauer | September 12, 2013

“Acadia Fag” article investigation completed

After an eight month long investigation, which Acadia Student Union President Matthew Rios promised “challenged our understanding of what Acadia culture was,” the joint investigation by the ASU and University Administration concluded their investigation early this summer concerning the allegations made in the infamous essay titled “Acadia Fag” published online last September in The Athenaeum.

The article in question received national coverage and outrage over allegations made in a personal essay by a student who claimed to be the subject of harassment at last year’s frosh concert.  In the essay she describes witnessing a large group chant “fucking faggots” for at least 15 minutes without any intervention by ASU or security staff.  The author also alleged harassment by a student selling her a ticket while calling after her “Yo Fag!  I got you a ticket, Fag!  Hey short-haired Fag, I got you a ticket!”  The author was published under the pseudonym ‘Shane’ and identified herself as a freshman new to Acadia and Wolfville, as well as a “dyke.”  At the time of publication Safety and Security was conducting an internal investigation concerning events that night.

Following the allegations the ASU and University Administration requested a joint investigation be lead by Acadia Equity Officer and former RCMP Officer Meg Townsend.  Townsend decided that the investigation would focus on the three major allegations made in the article, which include the homophobic chants, the harassment by the ticket scalper, and the lack of intervention by ASU and Security staff.

Despite hundreds of students in attendance at the event, with Security and Residence Life staff present, no witnesses were found to validate the claims made in the article.  Safety and Security staff did witness some chanting on the evening in question, however heard no language they perceived as homophobic or initially inappropriate, though it was later stopped.  Many students admitted to hearing or taking part in loud chants in the line-up, both in the investigation and in comments to the article posted online, but all denied hearing any homophobic language.  Accounts of the chants were inconsistent, and some alleged that the chants were sexist in nature with slogans (which were championed later in the year by a now-deleted twitter account claiming to represent the Dennis House Residence) like “Little dicks” and “Tits out.”  Nevertheless, no one admitted to hearing any chants lasting longer than several minutes or those with homophobic language.

The investigation also located the student who sold ‘Shane’ her ticket, who admitted to scalping the ticket, but promised not to have used the homophobic language described in the essay.  Character witnesses also defended the student, arguing they had never witnessed any homophobia from the student.

Townsend’s investigation also discovered Safety and Security’s shuttle service picked ‘Shane’ up that evening to drive her home from the event.  The shuttle drivers told the investigation that she made no complaints or allegations on her ride home.

Rios and Acadia University Vice-President Administration and Finance and CFO Darrell Youden viewed the investigation as a success in both its findings and as “a process set in place to approach these sort of scenarios.”  Rios expressed that he had “extreme faith in our processes.”  Youden went on to point out that the length of the investigation was indicative of how seriously the two administrations were committed to uncovering whether a “larger culture had seen this” which both agreed would have been disappointing.  Rios further argued, “this should re-affirm that this University doesn’t back from investigation, and that is something other institutions should look to.”

Since last year’s frosh events, Safety and Security, Axe Lounge and Residence Life Staff have all received new training in approaching sexual harassment.  Additionally campus harassment policies were put under review and re-written while the Student Union pledged to also engage in a cultural approach to the issue.

Rios reported that expectations have been raised and set, and the outgoing outrage and support concerning the essay confirmed his expectations of the campus. Rios also “challenges our community to remember that these sorts of allegations have a direct impact on careers and affect individuals.”


Read the original article from last September here

Media Credits:  Kelly MacNeil