Student's striptease posted online
UWO investigates, discipline unlikely
Student knew photos were being taken
Dec. 13, 2005. 11:34 AM
Canadian universities have no business, it seems, in the bedrooms of the campus dorm.
Yet thanks to the Internet, everyone else can take a peek.
The University of Western Ontario is investigating an incident in which a female first-year student performed a full striptease and lap dance last week for several males in a residence bedroom, with graphic photos soon sent out over the Internet.
The incident raises questions about how far a university can go in protecting students, particularly younger ones from themselves.
But because the young woman apparently performed willingly in the privacy of a residence room and no one filed a complaint, the school says it likely has no cause for discipline.
"We certainly regret this has happened; it's not something the university condones and we are very disappointed in these students, but rooms in residence are considered to be students' homes, and what goes on between consenting adults in the privacy of their homes is considered to be their business," said Susan Grindrod, Western's vice-president of housing.
"What's different in this case is that these pictures are going all over the world. With the Internet and personal blogs, pictures can be circulated very quickly, and I'm not sure how we would regulate students' blogs and websites even if we wanted to," said Grindrod.
As soon as the raunchy images came to the attention of the administration, officials approached the young woman to ask if she had been forced to strip or tricked into being photographed without her knowledge. She said she had not.
"We were immediately proactive because we wanted to know if there had been any coercion and she told us she was a consenting participant and she was aware that pictures were being taken," said Grindrod.
"If there had been any coercion, there absolutely would have been repercussions. We do plan to talk to the other (male) students involved and continue to review the situation. It's still early in the game for us to have figured out how to proceed."
University dorms have codes of conduct that forbid students from breaking the law. Many take a zero-tolerance approach to students taking drugs and underage drinking, for example.
Western has a policy that forbids the circulation of "objectionable" material such as racist, homophobic or pornographic images, either written or electronic, with extreme cases leading to the student being asked to leave residence.
Yet most universities warn today's highly involved baby boomer parents that campus dorm supervisors will not serve as party police or morality monitors for their children, but will enter a student's room only if there is reason to believe a law is being broken or someone is in danger.
"We're not the alcohol police and we're not sex police, and I'm not sure we would want to be," said Grindrod. "And we recognize that many young people in first year may try out new things that can lead to errors in judgment. I'm not sure some of these misbehaviours haven't gone on in the past. It's just that today, the images can get sent around the world.
"I actually feel badly for all the students involved in this incident. It's a very sad situation."