Recently our collective had a meeting with a few executives from the University of Victoria Student’s Society. In order to create a safe space for our members to share their stories we told the visiting UVSS execs that the meeting was confidential, a closed door meeting. The executives agreed and began our meeting. During the course of the meeting our members shared their thoughts and stories with the executives who sat quietly and listened. After the meeting we had our regular scheduled collective meeting.
A couple of days after the collective meeting one of our coordinators received an email from Mackenzie Cumberland, a UVSS board executive who had attended the closed door session stating that our meeting, our stories, were not confidential since the meeting took place in a public space (our women’s centre), and that since we are not a society, but a group within the student society, then we have no legal ability to enforce confidentiality.
Our collective is incredibly upset at this breach of our trust, and although there may not be a legal instrument to enforce confidentiality of our meetings, the principle still stands that Mackenzie Cumberland sat in our meeting, agreed to confidentiality, without any intention of maintaining that spoken agreement. This, in our opinion, is not only unethical, but is malicious, and tantamount to professional misconduct! Mackenzie Cumberland entered a verbal agreement with our collective to maintain confidentiality and she chose to disclose that information publicly without our consent. The UVSS board is aware of Mackenzie Cumberland’s actions and has yet to take any action on this matter. Mackenzie Cumberland reminded members of our collective that asked questions to the board at the last UVSS board meeting (June 12th, 2017), that the women’s centre collective has no right to expect confidentiality in any of our meetings! In essence, we were reminded that our rights are secondary to privilege of those in positions of power.