Saturday, February 23, 2008

SFU Asked to Disclose "Sexual Harassment Ring" to Donors

The Simon Fraser University Board of Governors has been asked to meet its obligation to disclose to potential donors SFU’s unresolved history of allegedly “operating a sexual harassment ring” in the Center for the Contemporary Arts. The DTES Enquirer has obtained a copy of the request to the Board dated February 12, 2008.

The sexual harassment ring consisted of professors in the 1970's, 1980's, and possibly 1990's targeting female students, resulting in at least one student dropping out.

The sexual harassment ring operated out of the Visual Arts Department at the Center for the Contemporary Arts and consisted of the entire studio faculty: Jeff Wall, founder and head of the department, Greg Snider, Assistant Professor, and David McWilliam, Assistant Professor. Sexual harassment was not restricted to Visual Arts professors or students though.
The Center for the Contemporary Arts was billed as "interdisciplinary" and certainly this approach extended to the sex lives of professors, with Jeff Wall having sexual relations with Lisa, a student in Dance -- at the same time as he and Greg Snider were competing to get a particular Visual Arts student into bed.

After one student revealed on a Course Drop form that she had been sexually harassed, Jeff Wall left to take a job teaching photography at the University of British Columbia from which he was later fired. David McWilliam took a job teaching painting at Emily Carr College of Art & Design. It is not known whether the sexual harassment allegations had any bearing on these men leaving SFU. Greg Snider, the sexual harasser referred to on the Course Drop form, was promoted at SFU to head of the Visual Arts Department.

SFU's Downtown Visual Arts Studio (the top three floors of the white building in center of photo above) on Hastings St. in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was a major site of sexual harassment. Studio space on the Burnaby Campus was another site.

This month's request for full disclosure to prospective funders comes almost two months after Premier Gordon Campbell was criticized on the internet for giving the SFU Center for the Contemporary Arts almost $50 million, despite it's unresolved history of operating sexual harassment sites. President Stevenson has launched a campaign to raise an additional $30 million privately.

Michael Audain, President of Polygon Homes, who boasts having participated in the Black civil rights movement in the U.S., responded to the campaign for private funds by donating $2 million to the new Center for the Contemporary Arts. Audain was asked via an e-mail -- SFU published his e-mail address -- if he was aware of SFU's unresolved history of operating a sexual harassment ring when he made his donation and agreed to have the teaching gallery named after him. He did not respond.

Past communication addressed to SFU President Michael Stevenson about the sexual harassment ring has been ignored.

The Feb. 12th request for full disclosure to donors was addressed to Nancy McKinstry, Chair of the Board of Governors, along with other Board members. SFU promotes Nancy McKinstry on their website as a current mentor and "founding member and past-chair of the Minerva Foundation for BC Women, an organization dedicated to supporting women throughout British Columbia to attain their educational and leadership goals."


samdra said...

great that some oftheharassers actuallywerein thesamelocal and lookedinthedirection ofthat reporterstits. sogladforuall.
murderstoriesconnected withSFU would

Lisa said...


My name's Lisa and I dance too! - I'm more interested in the murder stories! - what murder stories? Tell us the gossip in yorkshire (England) because we love Jeff Wall here and we love to gossip too!

Or is that comment above a poem or something?

Ps I read the article about JW running a ring - can I just say it came at a VERY 'interesting' time in JW studies. There's something about it that stinks in terms of transference that some of you might not know about.

Also- if you're in Vancouver get on Wreck Beach and strip off and have some fun! I'm going to when I go back!!!

lots of love

Lisa Joyce (Former Art Historian) xxxxxx