"They should be held accountable for those actions.Actions have consequences and I think that this is certainly something that can't go unnoticed," said Roy, who heads the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa. I think that it's very shameful to see that there are student leaders who are perpetuating that within their own circles." The incident was first reported in the Fulcrum, the university's English language student newspaper."I do think it's a form of cyberbullying even though she wasn't a direct recipient of those messages on Facebook," said Wanda Cassidy, associate professor at Simon Fraser University who researches cyberbullying in schools and universities."There needs to be a lot more conversation around those kinds of behaviour and comments that are made demeaning towards women." The footprint that such comments can leave on the Internet should also make individuals think twice before sending demeaning or hurtful messages, she said.23 meeting of the student federation's Board of Administration, which oversees the affairs of the student union.Her plan was to distribute copies of the conversation to the board's members while asking the board to move a motion to "condemn" those who engaged in the discussion, two of whom were board members."While it doesn't change the inadmissible nature of our comments, we wish to assure you we meant you no harm," the apology, written in French, read."We realize the content of our conversation between friends promotes values that have no place in our society and our campus, on top of being unacceptably coarse." But Roy felt the apology wasn't enough.
"I would never say that kind of thing out in the public but when it was a private conversation I guess it slipped my mind that that's really not acceptable." Another member of the five, who did not want to be named, said the conversation was private and obtained illegally.
The letter also alleged that Roy, through an intermediary, had initially considered not sharing the conversation if the four participants would promise not to run for student leadership positions in the future.
After learning of the letter, the board decided to shelve the motion introduced at the meeting, but Roy said she wasn't ready to drop the matter.
"It was kind of like getting a double whammy, you get put in a very difficult situation and to have these men try to take all power away from me by telling me that I need to be censored and that I can't take action," she said.
"This is also incredibly frustrating and I think speaks to the fact that rape culture does not get challenged enough." The one participant in the conversation who is not threatening legal action said the entire incident has been a huge learning experience.