Content warning: This letter includes mention of sexual assault and gender-based violence.
Dear UNB Administration,
Over the last few weeks, dozens of stories have come out from students, past and present, recounting sexual assaults that took place on the UNB campus and were committed by UNB students, faculty, or staff. You have released four statements over five days in response to this ongoing discourse.
You have said nothing. You have done nothing.
On Tuesday, November 17, you “learned” that Dr. Bhargava had been suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New Brunswick. Why did you have to be informed of that? Why had you not taken action yourselves?
Also in a statement on November 17, you claim that your “silence is not inaction.” What is it then? Stories dating back almost a decade have surfaced of survivors stating that members of the faculty and administration have discouraged them in seeking action against their abusers and have silenced them in trying to speak out and access support. You can no longer claim that services implemented five years ago are “comprehensive” viable support options, especially when you have been continuously reducing the scope and funding of those services.
Especially when those services housed a known abuser for years.
The President’s email, also sent on November 17, promises to “raise greater awareness” and “inform students, staff and faculty” on the issues of sexual violence. We are aware and informed. Now we need accountability and action.
Bhargava needs to be fired. He needs to be barred from practicing psychiatry for the rest of his life. The survivors need support, accommodation, and justice. But this is bigger than Bhargava. This is the Rape Trail. This is S-Club and the Cellar. This is professors and TAs. This is residence buildings and proctors.
It’s the entire institution.
You are educating young people who will one day become Dr. Bhargava. Who you are training to be placed in positions of power where they abuse and assault the women they work with or those who are vulnerable to them. Allowing a young rapist to continue through your university without repercussions is directly aiding in the creation of a rapist lawyer, doctor, teacher, engineer, or psychiatrist.
Your students are not safe on your campus. They are telling you that and have been for years. Anything less than concrete, enforceable action in removing the perpetrators of this violence and eradicating the culture that allows it to continue is unacceptable and indefensible.
You say that “sexual violence of any kind is not tolerated at UNB.” Prove it. Because you haven’t so far.
The Brunswickan stands in solidarity and support with all survivors of sexual assault, violence, or harrassment of any kind. We hear you, we believe you, we stand with you.