Student prez target of vicious online attack

President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, Anne-Marie Roy was the victim of...

President of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, Anne-Marie Roy was the victim of vicious online sexual harassment. She became aware of an online conversation between other student executives about her. She spoke out Sunday, March 2, 2014 about the comments, which were made public Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. JESSIE ARCHAMAULT/OTTAWA SUN/QMI AGENCY

Jessie Archambault, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

OTTAWA -- A vicious online attack laced with sexual comments about the president of the student body at the University of Ottawa has angered students and led to the resignations of four student execs.

Anne-Marie Roy spoke out Sunday about the attack, saying it represents attitudes about women still present in today's university environment.

"It shows that sexism is still on our campus," said Roy, president of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

"It's a misogynistic attitude," she told QMI Agency.

The defamatory comments about Roy were in an online conversation on social media between the four elected student representative and one other student. The comments were mostly written in French.

Roy said she received an anonymous e-mailed copy of the attack chat on Feb. 10 during the SFUO's electoral campaign.

"I was shocked," she said.

She's not clear why she got a copy of the Facebook exchange. It may have been a sincere concern for her safety, or a way to destabilize her in the campaign.

"It was clear from the beginning I was going to denounce them," she said.

Screenshots of the conversation were leaked Feb. 28 on the Belle Jar blog. One comment reads: "Someone punish her with their shaft."

Suggestions of Roy having syphilis or chlamydia were also part of the conversation. A bet was even suggested for one of the guys to have sex with Roy in exchange for beer.

Following the leak, a Facebook page, titled uOttawa Students Demand Resignation of Pat Marquis and Associates, was created and has thousands of likes.

Pat Marquis and Alex Larochellle, both student execs resigned, Saturday in an e-mail to Roy. Two others, Michel Fournier-Simard and Alexandre Giroux, resigned Sunday.

"There was a lot of pressure from the student community for them to resign," Roy said, adding, "The ones that haven't resigned aren't taking responsibility for what they did."

Students were appalled by their representatives' behaviour.

"We're completely disgusted," said William Leonard-Felepchuk, spokesman for the Indigenous and Canadian Studies Student Association of the University of Ottawa. "It perpetuates rape culture on our campus."

"We're relieved. We hope they understand the gravity of their words," he added.

"I refuse to have them representing students at the University of Ottawa," Vlad Serb wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency.

University president Allan Rock released a statement Friday.

"The comments demonstrate attitudes about women and sexual aggression that have no place on campus, or anywhere else in Canadian society," Rock said.

Now that she's been re-elected president, Roy plans to promot campaigns against sexual violence and oppression.

"Some women might not want to go for a leadership position," she said of possible repercussion of the incident.


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