The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Monday, September 08, 2014

RRC president Forsyth wasn't the only one to leave under a cloud

This story is awkward to tell.

But it's necessary to tell it because the Board of Governors of Red River College has decided to hide from the public the real reason for the abrupt disappearance of Stephanie Forsyth, the college's president and CEO for the past four years.

One minute she was here; the next, she was gone, with the college issuing only a short statement that the Board "and Ms. Stephanie Forsyth wish to announce that as of August 31, 2014 Ms. Forsyth will not be continuing in her role as President of Red River College for personal and family reasons."

When pressed for more detail, Board chairman Richard Lennon elected to play word games. The Alice-in-Wonderland fairy tale woven by Lennon was captured best in the Winnipeg Free Press:

"Lennon said the board did not ask Forsyth to go and he insisted it would be inaccurate to say she resigned -- Red River's favoured phrase is that Forsyth stepped down.
"She approached the board and that led to a discussion,..."
"There's an agreement -- we don't discuss the terms of a staff member's departure."

But Stephanie Forsyth wasn't just a staff member. She was the staffer at the very top.

From the day her hiring was announced, she was touted as a role model for women and for aboriginals, each community able to point to one of their own in charge in one of the most powerful jobs in the province.

Her mysterious departure is a black eye for both of them -- women and aboriginals.
Forsyth was dogged almost from the start with the image of a dictatorial manager with an imperial lifestyle which she expected the taxpayer to pay for. But was it another lifestyle that finally sank her?

When word was circulating at the beginning of August (well before the unexplained approach Forsyth allegedly made to the Board) that she was toast, another scandal had already run its course.

A sex scandal.

A gay sex scandal.

Another high profile, high ranking college administrator had vacated their office on the QT before the new school year started -- and when Stephanie Forsyth was still the college president.

The sordid details had this administrator having a sexual affair with a student at Red River. Since no charges were laid, it appears the student was of age, and, we're told, was in a different faculty. The problem for the administrator was that they had taken the student on trips.

Was the college on the hook for the hook-up? We may never know.

But the Board of Governors has now opened the question: did the gay sex scandal have any bearing on Stephanie Forsyth's departure? 
Did Forsyth, a lesbian, know about the same-sex affair between a staffer and a student and do nothing?


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