By Geoff Agombar
Local Journalism Initiative
After a week of heightened debate on campus and in the media about sexual assault policy at Bishop’s University, students gathered in protest outside the board of governors meeting, scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. last Friday.
A few days prior, Jessica Landry, an honour roll psychology student, recalled a general feeling of dissatisfaction after a townhall held by Dean of Student Affairs Stine Linden-Andersen. “A lot of the students were not really impressed with how the townhall went. We felt like a lot of the answers that were given to us were very rehearsed. It felt very political where our answers were deflected or ignored or changed to another subject. We did not feel like we had been heard.”
Student attention began to focus on the Friday meeting of the governors. Through word of mouth, Landry learned of plans to walk out of class at 3 p.m. and silently gather outside the meeting room.
Arriving at 3:05, Landry says the board members were already in the meeting, so they would not have seen the students arriving. Another attendee estimated attendance climbed to as many as 100 students.
Landry says the members of the men’s football team were among the first to pass through the building. Their coach had granted a ten-minute break from practice to manifest their support.
Someone provided a QR code so students could listen to an audio stream of the meeting via Zoom.
It all moved quite rapidly. Landry estimates it was about 3:25 p.m. when she pulled up the wording of the right to protest to show security staff arguing that students would have to leave the premises because their presence in the hallway represented a fire hazard. The security guard explained that the right to protest does not strictly apply inside a university building, but relented and asked students to stand, not sit, and remain to one side of the hallways to maintain a clear passageway.
Around 3:30 p.m., Landry says someone came to invite a handful of students in to address the board.
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