The University of Alberta, situated in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has taken swift action in response to the recent controversy surrounding the improper use of the name of its Sexual Assault Centre. Samantha Pearson, the center’s director, has been removed from her position after she endorsed an open letter that denied allegations of rape and sexual violence by Hamas terrorists against Israeli women during the October 7 massacre.
In a statement released on Saturday, the university announced the immediate removal of Pearson from her role and the appointment of a new interim director for the Sexual Assault Centre. The university emphasized that Pearson’s personal views and opinions do not represent those of the institution.
Letter signed in ‘improper and unauthorized use’ of university’s name
University President and Vice-Chancellor Bill Flanagan stated, “The recent improper and unauthorized use of the name of the University of Alberta’s Sexual Assault Centre in endorsing an open letter has raised understandable concerns from members of our community and the public.” He continued, “I want to be clear that the former employee’s personal views and opinions do not in any way represent those of the University of Alberta.”
Flanagan also highlighted the university’s commitment to inclusivity, saying, “The services provided by the university, particularly those supporting the well-being and health of community members, must be open and welcoming to all individuals in our diverse community.”
Regarding the controversy, Flanagan expressed empathy, saying, “I understand that this event has been profoundly hurtful and may have compromised the trust of individuals in our community.” He acknowledged the potential negative impact on the trust of individuals, especially given the critical nature of the center’s work.