Recently, individuals participating in the Explore program at the University of Quebec at Trois Rivières (UQTR) shared with us details concerning events that have taken place on campus.
Students were shown a skit that attempted to raise awareness about sexual assault; instead, it mocked and trivialized a situation of sexual assault and was triggering to some students.
When students brought this to the attention of UQTR administration, they felt that they were met with indifference, and were told that "it is not the university's job to educate people about consent".
This negligence seems to be further manifested in the administration's reporting of sexual assault; they claim there have been none on campus between 2009 and 2013 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/multimedia/interactive-campus-sexual-assault-repo...) despite the assertions of individuals in the community.
As a support centre for survivors of sexual assault and their allies, when we hear of harmful disregard for the experiences of survivors and for the necessity of sexual assault prevention, we feel a responsibility to speak out in support of those who are demanding safer spaces.
We are in full agreement with the petition created by participants of Explore "to see the Trois-Rivières UQTR EIF administration held accountable on how it addresses sex education, consent and sexual assault".
We ask everyone to take a moment to read and sign it if you are able: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/re-educating-uqtr.
Further, we urge the UQTR administration to listen to students and take a proactive stance to prevent sexual assault on campus. This requires acknowledging the experiences of survivors, implementing significant prevention workshops that do not trivialize sexual assault, and providing accurate, accessible and intersectional resources to members of the university community.
These experiences are not isolated to one event or university campus. We cannot ignore the existence or impact of rape culture, and we must hold those in power accountable for the safety of our communities. As such, we at SACOMSS stand in solidarity with those at UQTR who are taking a stance against sexual assault and rape culture on their campus.