Survivors of sexual violence at Western University spark nationwide conversations

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VANCOUVER (News 1130) – Big conversations about rape culture and consent have spread across the country after dozens of students at Western University (UWO) in Ontario appeared, saying they were drugged and sexually assaulted on campus. was persecuted.

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During the university’s orientation week, a series of sexual harassment allegations surfaced. Following the massive protests where UWO students walked out of classrooms, hoisted signs and raised slogans condemning sexual violence, demanding change in the campus.

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Aashna Josh is the Alma Mater Society (AMS) Sexual Assistance Center Manager at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and says this toxic campus culture is not specific to Western University. But the problem is all over the country.

“Sexual violence is a cultural problem… because sexual violence is rooted in various repressive beliefs and attitudes – things like racism, sexism, patriarchy, maltreatment – ​​all these things are at the root of sexual violence,” she explains.

At the AMS Sexual Assistance Center, part of the work is supporting assault survivors, but they do not take reports.

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However, she says that many incidents are under-reported to the police and universities.

Josh says, “This is usually related to policies and procedures that are not helpful, or students find [those are] They don’t want to go the way they want to go when it comes to reporting.”

Josh suggests that trauma-informed support is just one of many reforms beginning with universities.

On 14 September, London Police updated their investigation into multiple sexual assault and violence reports at Western University, revealing that they were aware of the allegations made on social media about 30 women.

So far no one has come forward with a complaint to the police regarding these allegations.

The school confirmed on Monday that it has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students in the past week and is also investigating additional allegations made on social media.

Rape culture, misogyny, lack of consent often associated with campus experience

This is the time to engage people “to learn about the realities and facts of the issue,” says Josh, so education is a good place to start.

“People will often talk about consent learning, and I think that’s a really important thing to learn. Most people know what consent is and how it’s practiced.

“But it’s also really important to reflect on the beliefs attached to it, because many times, people choose to dismiss or ignore someone for lack of consent, because they feel entitled to that person because of their own internal attitudes and beliefs. can, because they cannot see that person as an equal.”

She adds, education about toxic masculinity should also be available.

Josh says that AMS supports many students who have been affected by sexual assault in the fraternity. So the fraternity needs to take responsibility for the internal culture that creates space for sexual violence.

“It’s really the responsibility, the fraternity to really step up and see what’s happening internally, how they are making room for sexual violence, and really take some responsibility and some education and learning and some learning.” Kind of do exist with some of the culture that can come with parties at frats to see how they actually engage in some of those social interactions.

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Western University has introduced a requirement for all residency students to take training on sexual harassment and consent.

The school says it plans to make training compulsory for all students, but is starting with those on campus, with the first session on Monday. Additional training will be developed for teachers and staff.

The new “action plan” will also see the university see 100 new “security ambassadors” – a mix of high-year undergraduate and graduate students who will work in overnight residences.

Josh emphasizes reports that Western University people are not new, but an existing culture that many people experience. Which is another reason for them to reform campus policies.

“Assuming that a campus is a safe place for people to live, I think that’s a really reasonable assumption. And then when things happen, it can certainly circumvent that security.”

– With files from Lucas Casaleto and The Canadian Press

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