UBC Okanagan’s request to adjourn the hearing for a human rights complaint against the university was denied, with the hearing scheduled for May 10, 2021.
Stephanie Hale, a former student at the school, filed a complaint against UBCO in 2017, alleging that it mishandled her sexual assault complaint.
According to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision, the university applied to have the hearing adjourned four times, with the three previous applications granted based on various circumstances, including the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C. as well as the unavailability of judges.
In all adjournment applications, however, the university stated it was waiting for the result of the judicial review of the tribunal decision not to have the case against it dismissed. UBCO claimed, “the tribunal acted in a patently unreasonable manner by failing to dismiss the complaint”.
UBCO first applied for an adjournment in November 2019, stating that the school was waiting on the outcome of the B.C. Supreme Court’s judicial review of the complaint against it. The tribunal accepted the application, rescheduling the hearing to June and July 2020.
On May 13, 2020, UBCO filed a second application to adjourn the hearing, which was again accepted. The hearing was scheduled for November 2020.
UBCO filed another adjournment application in August 2020, which was again granted. The hearing was rescheduled for May 2021.
Since the B.C. Supreme Court still hasn’t issued its decision regarding the judicial review, the university filed a fourth adjournment application, which was denied.
“At this point, the application to dismiss process… has taken three years,” tribunal member Devyn Cousineau said.
“I accept that much of this delay was due to truly unforeseen circumstances… however, during this time, Ms. Hale’s expert witness has retired, and it is reasonable to expect that witnesses’ memories may have faded and will continue to do so with the further passage of time.”