According to multiple sources, non-disclosure agreements were utilised to keep harassment allegations silent.
According to a former lecturer, the University of Prince Edward Island has utilised non-disclosure agreements to establish a “culture of silence and intimidation” on campus, resulting in a poisonous work environment where employees would rather leave the province than speak up.
Kate Tilleczek, who held the Canada Research Chair in Child/Youth Cultures and Transitions at UPEI until retiring in 2018, claimed she assisted three women who were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs, after reporting sexual harassment on campus.
Tilleczek claims she has faced retaliation from university authorities as a result of this.
“I don’t think an NDA belongs in a post-secondary institution,” Tilleczek, who is now an instructor at York University in Toronto, said.
“We’re there to promote intellectual freedom, discovery, and creativity… NDAs, on the other hand, don’t seem to have any place in my opinion.”
In 2013, the institution revealed that it had struck settlement agreements with two employees who had complained to the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission about sexual harassment. These concerns are centred on university president Alaa Abd-el-Aziz, who has been in office since 2010.
The commission and the institution refused to share details about the complaints, but the chair of the University of(PEI) Prince Edward Island Board of Governors, Tom Cullen, informed the Charlottetown Guardian at the time that they featured inappropriate comments. As part of the agreement, the university stated that it could not comment on the costs or terms.
A third payment was struck with a former university student over the conduct of a professor, not the president, according to Tilleczek, and all three settlements included nondisclosure agreements.
No response from UPEI
CBC News inquired several times about the university’s use of NDAs, including whether they had been used and under what circumstances, whether there was a policy directing their use, and how much money was involved in associated settlement agreements.
The university did not respond to my request.
The three people suspected of signing the agreements were contacted by the CBC. Two people replied that they were unable to comment. The third person remained silent.