Speaking on behalf of a survivor, an anonymous source notified the Daily of allegations of sexual violence that have been diclosed against SSMU VP Internal-elect Declan McCool.
The source informed the Daily that, because of the nature of SSMU’s Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy (GSVP), the ability for restrictions imposed as a result of investigations to prevent an incoming SSMU Executive from taking office remains unclear.
Newly-elected SSMU Executives begin their term on June 1, as per the SSMU Constitution. On May 1, they will become employees of SSMU and begin training, becoming official officers on June 1. Incoming executives are not considered SSMU employees until May 1; they are only considered officers after June 1 and thus, not subject to the processes for removal until after that time.
In a statement provided to the Daily, the survivor calls on McCool to step down from his incoming position and calls on the SSMU to condemn McCool’s actions, and to “acknowledge the continued prevalence of gendered and sexual violence at McGill.”
The VP Internal portfolio includes working closely with the IRPs of various faculties, coordinating inclusive campus events, and collaborating with committees that deal with gendered and sexual violence on campus. McCool’s election platform explicitly referenced these aspects of the portfolio.
The incoming VP Internal, while not yet in office, has been reported to currently hold a leadership position at the McGill Fraternity Sigma Chi and sat on the committee for Science Games.
In addition to calling on SSMU to take action, the survivor’s statement also references the difficulty of navigating McGill’s processes of disclosure, due to both their disorganization and nature as “non-survivor centric and trauma-informed” spaces.
The survivor’s statement, which was requested to be published on their behalf, can be read in full below.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and are seeking support or resources, the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) recommends contacting the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre at +1 888-933-9007, Tel-Aide at 514-935-1101, or texting the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 686868, as SACOMSS has suspended drop-in and phone line services until further notice due to COVID-19. SACOMSS can also be reached at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns.
Additionally, the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (OSVRSE) at McGill is maintaining reduced services by phone or virtually for McGill members, whether in Montreal, across Canada, or abroad. To request assistance and inquire about adapted services, you can contact them by email or by phone at 514-398-3954. Please allow for a 24hr response time during regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm). Drop-in hours, group activities, and volunteering activities are suspended until further notice.
Content Warning: The following statement discusses instances of sexual violence by an individual who occupies, and will soon occupy positions of power and authority within the SSMU and SSMU-affiliated communities.
I call upon Declan McCool to resign from his position as SSMU VP Internal-elect. Furthermore, I call on SSMU to release a statement that condemns Declan McCool’s actions and acknowledges the continued prevalence of sexual and gendered violence at McGill.
Despite many recent initiatives to raise awareness of and combat sexual violence at McGill through programs like It Takes All of Us and policies like the IRP, many still struggle with their own battles against their abusers. It is undeniable that rape culture and stigmas surrounding violence remain prevalent on this campus. Although avenues for reporting exist, they remain inaccessible and ineffective, as I have come to realize when I tried reporting through the McGill Policy Against Sexual Violence and the SSMU Gendered and Sexual Violence Policy. Due to the ambiguous nature of an incoming SSMU Executive within the structure of the SSMU, it is unclear if these processes would be able to remove him from his upcoming position of power, pointing to a glaring failure in our systems. The fact that I even have to write this statement is a testament to these failures. No Survivor should have to publicly retell their story in order to prevent their abuser from holding one of the highest positions of power on campus, and it hurts me to have to struggle through writing this statement. I believe that in order to truly combat the issue, we must all be cognizant of sexual violence happening to those closest to us, to those on campus, and especially from those in positions of power.
Finally, I wish to recognize other survivors on this campus and the difficulties we face in trying to navigate our own healing processes in addition to other aspects of our daily life. I commend the bravery of all survivors who made and continue to make the hard choice of seeking disciplinary action against their abusers despite the difficulties of navigating non-survivor centric and trauma-informed reporting processes. Without these courageous decisions, we wouldn’t make progress towards a safer, more inclusive community.