An important message from the Principal of Wycliffe College
Dear Members of the Wycliffe College Community,
Today I received a letter addressed to me, members of staff and faculty, and the Board of Trustees of the College. It was signed by forty individuals who are either current students, former students, or who have (or had) a role as a member of our staff or adjunct faculty. The letter expresses a concern for those in our community who are vulnerable to sexual violence, abuse, and harassment, and the letter’s signatories believe that Wycliffe College has not been a place where victims and survivors can seek truth and healing. They call upon us to adopt policies and practices aimed at preventing sexual misconduct and providing safety and a remedy for those with complaints. They also call upon us to be more diligent in preparing future church leaders who understand appropriate boundaries and who can act responsibly to complaints in their ministry contexts.
I want to begin by saying that we do take the matters of sexual violence, abuse, and harassment seriously at the College. The care of the vulnerable is of primary concern for us, and we want to be responsive to those who have been harmed and attentive to any allegations of negligence on our part. Sexual misconduct can happen here, and we have received and acted on formal complaints in keeping with the carefully laid out guidelines of our sexual misconduct policy in the past. However, the details of events described in the letter are unknown to me as I have not received so much as an informal complaint about them. I am prepared to hear more, however, and invite anyone with information to come forward to me or a member of the University community, or to the University of Toronto Sexual Violence Prevention and Support Centre, and actions will be initiated under the policy.
I wish to add that the College is receptive to any criticism designed to further the mission of this institution and its integrity as a Christian community. Consequently, when I received an earlier draft of this letter, we took steps to make our Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy more transparent on our web site and included a list of helpful resources which are available within the larger University of Toronto community. (See: https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/programs-courses/academic-policies and https://www.wycliffecollege.ca/current-students/policies_and_statements )
Furthermore, we are going to review the matters of our current training requirements and curriculum to see where we might improve them and make them more effective. Moreover, owing to recent inquiries made of other TST colleges, the college heads will at their next meeting discuss how this policy, which we hold in common, is being implemented elsewhere on campus. I believe that many of the signatories’ other concerns should be answered in this policy.
In conclusion, I feel obliged to express my disappointment that, despite repeated attempts, the letter’s authors would not accept my invitation to enter into discussion on these matters. I believe that the aims of the letter to hold Wycliffe accountable to the values and convictions that we share with the signatories would have been received by us readily and gratefully. Please know that the door is still open.
Respectfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Dr Stephen Andrews
Principal and Helliwell Professor of Biblical Interpretation.