In the wake of a former lecturer being convicted on sex crime charges, the University College of the Cayman Islands is revamping its policy on sexual harassment.
Pierre Michel Pavlov Rameau pleaded guilty in April to 12 counts of possession of child pornography. He is expected to be sentenced this week.
UCCI President Roy Bodden said the campus was stunned by the case.
“It took me by surprise,” Mr. Bodden said. “It’s brought sobriety to many of us.”
Part of the sobering effect led to the decision to update the campus’s policy on sexual harassment. At last week’s Board of Governors meeting, Mr. Bodden presented a statement outlining the campus’s response to the incident and a letter of appeal, asking students to come forward if they have been exposed to sexual trauma. He told the board the policy on sexual harassment is being updated. He hopes to have a new version ready for approval when the board meets on June 20.
“What we had in our employee manual was not comprehensive enough,” he said. “We talk about workplace fraternization and harassment, but this goes beyond that. It’s a comprehensive policy.”
Mr. Bodden will also be putting out an open letter to students, explaining the current situation and encouraging those who feel they have been subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct to come forward.
“We understand that there is a high probability that there are other survivors in our community who have not come forward with their stories,” Mr. Bodden’s letter says.
It was one such person that tipped off authorities regarding Mr. Rameau.
“One student had the courage to speak out,” Mr. Bodden wrote, “one student whose name you will never know, and whom we will never be able to acknowledge publicly and thank properly for the immeasurable service done to our community – not only UCCI, but Cayman as a whole.”
That person is just the start, the president said.
“What we want to ascertain, is this an isolated incident?” he said in an interview, while acknowledging that it can be hard for survivors of sexual trauma to speak up.
“We need survivors to help break the silence,” his letter said. “Survivors’ voices and stories are important not only in and of themselves, but also as we try to piece together this puzzle and the scope to which victimisation has taken place.”
Mr. Bodden said he is unaware of anyone else being affected by Mr. Rameau’s actions, but if there are, he wants to know.
In his statement submitted to the board, he said it was important to take advantage of the current climate to encourage more openness on the issue.
“Coming on the heels of the #metoo social movement,” he wrote, “this case only underscores the importance of UCCI’s role in taking charge of cultivating a culture that supports those who speak out.”