In an unusual public condemnation, a coordinator the University Students’ Council has resigned in protest over the way her job is being handled.
Jessica Tong worked for the USC’s peer support network as coordinator of the I Know Someone campaign and the Consent Education Service.
In an open letter posted online earlier today, Tong accused The USC’s vice-president internal, Sam Krishnapillai, of violating ethical principles and imposing oppressive restrictions.
Tong said the USC’s internal affairs portfolio was being handled with a lack of dialogue, transparency, and openness to criticism.
In her letter, Tong wrote, “We cannot do anti-oppressive work while our hands are unfairly shackled by an oppressive system that we are asked to serve under.”
Tong also added that her resignation was not meant as a personal attack.
“The issues I’ve addressed are systemic issues, not personal ones. Discussions surrounding these systemic problems should never lead to the devaluation of any person,” she wrote.
The USC is expected to release an official statement on the matter later this afternoon. This post will be updated as we receive more information.
UPDATE (3:37 p.m.): Pat Whelan, president of the USC, issued an official statement to The Gazette regarding Tong’s resignation. Here is the statement in its entirety:
Official statement from USC president Pat Whelan
“The USC has accepted the resignation of Jessica Tong from her position as Coordinator of the Sexual Health and Consent Education Service.
I can say with sincerity that the USC is fully committed to protecting the rights of women and, in particular, survivors of sexual violence. The unique risks and dangers these individuals experience on campus is undeniable and the USC recognizes the need for institutional support and solidarity.
The USC will work to ensure the service is up and running again as soon as possible, and hopes this change in leadership will not slow down the necessary work of the Peer Support Network. We firmly believe we need to focus on supporting and educating all Western students on the issues facing our peers.
As an organization, we are bound to represent the wishes to students and the policies of council. We do not take a stance on matters such as abortion and birth control, which allows us to more fully support survivors and victims of diverging backgrounds, sociocultural constructs and perspectives.
We’ve encouraged Ms. Tong to reach out to talk about the future of the service and her experience as a volunteer. We welcome all students, councilors and community members to send us any concerns or thoughts on the matter.”
UPDATE (3:38 p.m. July 30): Pat Whelan sent The Gazette this addendum to his statement this afternoon:
“We accidentally used exclusive language, for which we apologize. We support all survivors of sexual violence or those at risk regardless of their gender or gender identity.”