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Combating the dialogue surrounding sexual violence within universities

by Savanna Craig November 3, 2015
Combating the dialogue surrounding sexual violence within universities

Concordia to hold bystander intervention workshop on Nov. 4

Concordia will be holding a bystander intervention workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 4 to generate awareness of sexual violence and how those witnessing it can and should react. This workshop, being held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in H-7.67 of the Hall building, will help educate those to discourage rape culture and provide a safe environment to support victims.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) coordinator, Jennifer Drummond, said these events are important to help contribute to a culture where survivors can feel safe and their stories can be taken seriously. She also said the bystander intervention workshops will not only help create more awareness around the subject, but it will put the audience in different scenarios to help demonstrate how to deal and intervene when put in a situation of sexual violence.

In the past, SARC held workshops in Concordia once every semester by request only. Starting this semester, SARC has started holding bystander interventions on consent and what constitutes sexual violence every fall exclusively to student athletes and coaches. “These workshops are important for athletes—not necessarily due to a problem of past sexual violence, but due to their status within the university,” Drummond said. “Athletes are seen as role models representing their school, so they should receive education on the culture and awareness of sexual violence.”

Social justice activist Julie Lalonde will be speaking at the workshop. Lalonde began her involvement with the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre, which sparked in light of a notorious sexual assault involving a female student that was sent to the hospital due to a violent sexual assault. The sexual assault took place on campus. Lalonde said the situation “really highlighted the gap in services at Carleton.” These were gaps Lalonde wanted to fill to improve the services and knowledge of sexual violence to those in the community, targeting these university students.

“We know, statistically, that campuses have incredibly high rates of sexual violence. Traditionally, campuses have been very resistant to the idea of even talking about sexual assault on their campus, let alone working towards it,” said Lalonde. She added that the way many campuses have dealt with sexual violence has only made this problem worse.

Lalonde said the best thing for a bystander to do when witnessing a sexual assault is to check in with the person. You should ask if the person with them is bothering them or if they want you to wait with them until they get a cab home. Lalonde told The Concordian that if you are a witness, appropriate action would be to “simply [check] in with someone and giving them the opportunity to say, ‘no worries. I know him. It’s all good!’ … or alternatively, ‘He won’t leave me alone and I just want to get out of here.’”

 

The bystander intervention event is open to the public and will take place Nov. 4 in room H-7.67 at the Hall building.

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