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Open Counter-Letter About the Steven Galloway Case at UBC

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We the undersigned are Canadian literature and littérature québécoise scholars, writers, cultural workers and allies. Many of us have built our careers writing or writing about the stories people make in Canada and Quebec. We have made talking and thinking about the writing produced here our life’s work. We are also teachers who recognize that our primary duty of care is to our students.

That is why we are shocked and appalled by the letter signed by many prominent Canadian writers defending Steven Galloway. We agree that context for Steven Galloway’s suspension has not been made public, yet, and that he has not been charged with anything. But we also note that the open letter expresses great concern for Steven Galloway, and no concern for the women who came forward. The letter also questions the process of the University of British Columbia in handling the case and calls for an independent inquiry because “justice” requires it, in the view of the signatories.

We are angered by this letter of “support,” because no support was expressed for the female complainant or for the other female students who felt it was safe to make complaints after Steven Galloway was suspended. We are furious that there is only support for Galloway himself because he is a fellow writer, and because he is friends with many who signed the letter.

To us, it is outrageous that women in Canada come forward and seek justice for being sexually harassed, raped and bullied at school, work or on the street, and then they are treated as if they were the perpetrators. We are in a climate in which women’s experiences and stories are so frequently dismissed that we do not believe there is anything brave about publicly doubting women’s voices. We believe in a transparent and fair process for all parties involved, not just those with recognizable names.  

Those who signed the letter could have called for transparency from the University of British Columbia, for the good of its Creative Writing Program, its instructors, and its students. But they didn’t. They chose to close ranks around one of their own and to say nothing about what the women who came forward actually want and need. The complainants have spoken out and are on record. There is media coverage of their accounts. But the open letter doesn’t mention any of that. It centres Steven Galloway as the only relevant figure in this case. The women who have come forward are silenced and rendered invisible by what the letter assumes about them.

As those who write, teach and love Canadian literature, we want those women to know that we are with them.  In a world where perpetrators are believed and rewarded, and complainants are accused and harassed, we stand against the position in  the open letter of November 15, 2016 supporting Steven Galloway. We support the independent inquiry at the University of British Columbia. We support the women who came forward. We stand with them, because it’s right, and because we believe them.

We invite those who signed the open letter to the University of British Columbia to withdraw their signatures and call for a fair and open process based on a recognition of the realities of rape culture.


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