Increasing sexual assault awareness on campus

One in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime, according to Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC). This issue will impact virtually all women in this country, and we must act now in order to safeguard our society.

McGill University is hosting a Sexual Assault Awareness Week from March 27 to 31, and we at The Concordian applaud them for doing so. We wish Concordia would follow suit.

According to Concordia University’s spokesperson Chris Mota, every day is a day to recognize the impacts of sexual assault, but as of now, Concordia doesn’t have a specific week dedicated to it. We believe the university should dedicate an entire week to this issue. Of course, in an ideal world, sexual assault would always be recognized. Actually, in an ideal world, sexual assault wouldn’t even exist. But, as we’re sure you can tell, real life isn’t always positive and hopeful.

Real life requires time dedicated to educating students, staff and citizens about sexual assault.

SARC posts statistics about sexual assault on their website, one of which states that, across Canada, 82 per cent of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Also, one in six men will experience sexual violence at some time in their life. It’s troubling to know these facts exist, but this is what makes a week dedicated to educating university students about sexual violence so essential.

It’s a hard fact that sexual assault is an ongoing issue, and has been since the beginning of time. According to CBC News, a 15-year-old girl was recently raped by five or six men in Chicago, and the violent act was posted on Facebook Live. Forty people watched the video—yet none called the police to report it.

A 14-year-old boy was recently accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student at Heritage Regional High School in St. Hubert, according to CJAD. Longueuil police confirmed they are investigating allegations made by two other students about the same boy as well.

In December 2016, Gilles Deguire, a former Montreal politician and ex-police officer, pleaded guilty to sexually touching a minor, and was sentenced to six months behind bars.

These recent news events clearly show sexual assault is something that still needs to be discussed and acknowledged—especially early signs, so that it can be prevented. It’s important to talk about sexual violence, and it’s important to ask questions. One of the many root causes of sexual assault can be a lack of understanding, an issue which can be remedied by education.

We at The Concordian believe SARC should create a one-week workshop series to address various topics that relate to sexual assault—from the bystander effect, consent, and to the ways in which sexual violence can be prevented. We absolutely cannot ignore the great amount of work SARC has done to improve sexual assault awareness at Concordia, though—they’re a great resource, and have always been active when trying to prevent sexual violence and educating others. A one-week interactive workshop series, however, can improve their services and improve the overall education of sexual assault. Of course, sexual assault should be acknowledged as an issue every single day. But in the world we live in, it’s rare that it is—and perhaps a proper, educational initiative can help increase people’s understanding of sexual violence and how to prevent it.


Where does comedy stand when it comes to racial jokes?

An examination of comedy in today’s society where political correctness must always be observed

Comedian George Lopez came under fire for a joke he told at one of his shows on Feb. 4. During a segment, he joked that “there are only two rules in a Latino family: don’t date black people, and don’t park in front of the house.”

Photo by Thom Bell

In response, a heckler stood up, gave Lopez the middle finger and was subsequently kicked out of the venue. While the woman was being escorted out of the building, Lopez called her a “b*tch” and remarked that “four seats just opened up.”

Taken out of context, Lopez’s comments to the heckler may seem harsh—many people were upset. Most of the outrage, however, has been directed at the joke itself, which many claim is racist. Others have criticized the comedian for his overly mean-spirited and “sexist” remarks to the woman.

The thing is, these were not statements. They were jokes. They were funny jokes too, if you dig beneath the surface. Calling the joke “insensitive” just because he identifies a race in his joke, and ignoring what he means is sensationalizing his intent. I don’t know all the details and intricacies of the Latino community, but if you decipher the joke, it’s obvious Lopez is poking fun at the Latino community and how close-minded some Latinos are when it comes to interracial dating. He goes on to emphasize how ridiculous this is by comparing it to something as trivial as parking in front of the house. This joke works in all the ways a good joke should, and most of the crowd reacted accordingly.

Removing these jokes from their context and slapping them on a headline takes away all the built-up irony and energy from the show. This isn’t the first time a comedy show has been bombarded with such misunderstanding. Every few months, a different comedian is discussed on Good Morning America and, every time, they miss the point completely. In the case of Lopez, as is the case for many situations like his, you can hear the crowd laughing in the video.

Conversations that follow incidents like this usually bring up two questions: who decides what is funny, and what was the comedian’s intention? Comedians are quick to respond because only they can decide what their intentions were with regards to the jokes they told. Deciding who determines whether a joke is offensive—the audience or the comedian—has been an ongoing issue for as long as comedy has been around.

The notion that comedians are responsible for the reactions of others goes against the model of the genre. It’s impossible to predict how an audience member or listener will interpret or react to a joke, and in every case, someone is bound to be offended.

“It’s a very childish era,” comedian Bill Burr noted on his podcast in July 2013. “If I did a joke about chopping a guy’s hand off, you’re telling me that there are people in the crowd who, when they hear that joke, are going to head off and do it?”

Often, comedians will push the limits of what is “acceptable,” just to circumvent expectations. The comedian’s role is to observe and reflect on everyday situations, and to twist them or reveal their absurdities in a comedic and entertaining way. Comedy as an art form exposes the underlying thoughts of a society. To look back on the material of past comedians is to reflect on human history.

Of course, there are times when comedians’ jokes fall flat, but even in those cases, the intention of the comedian trumps the interpretation of the audience. If a joke doesn’t get a laugh, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not a joke, but that the comedian needs new material.

Comedy at its finest—the George Carlins, the Jerry Seinfelds, the Louis CKs—presents society without any makeup. Great jokes will always target and comment on society’s biggest issues. Even comedy at its dumbest, at its raunchiest, is a laugh. Comedy is an escape from the daily grind of life, and to confuse that escape with reality is simply ridiculous. When the irony is removed from the situation, the presentation, the delivery, and the comedian, all you are left with is a statement. Statements can be offensive, hurtful, racist, sexist. Jokes aren’t immune to this, but to hold them to the same standard is laughable.


Editorial: Cut the sucrose and give us the real deal

Fruits are invading Concordia—pear and peach posters hang in the metro, while pineapples are stripping in videos all over social media. One can only hope the fruit flies speed up the decaying process, but there’s no clear end in sight.

In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) recently launched a new awareness campaign regarding the very serious issues of consent and sexual assault. At the heart of the campaign are three videos, each featuring fruits in a variety of potential scenarios.

While we applaud the Sexual Assault Resource Centre for their vital and amazing services they provide to our student population, we can’t hold our tongue here—we don’t appreciate these videos. They trivialize sexual assault, and present the issue in a childish form.

One video features two pears sleeping together in one bed. One pear awakens and starts to engage the other pear intimately to their dismay. The pear susceptible to this incident then rolls away, and a statistic pops up on screen in a pleasant pink hue.

Our own university shouldn’t soften ‘trigger-warning’ subjects, but represent them accurately enough. These videos shouldn’t captivate a seven-year-old.

Most cases of sexual assault on campus occur within the first eight weeks of the semester, according to statistics from SARC. So this video is definitely timely, but are we not able to handle a serious campaign? Shouldn’t real people in real settings be featured when discussing an all too common social issue? As university students, we are on the road to becoming adults—we’re not looking to be babied.

We are not the only ones who have an issue with this video either. Last week, a post appeared on Spotted Concordia slating the videos, saying consent is all about communication, yet the video features no verbal communication whatsoever. Very odd indeed.

While we absolutely need to keep talking about these issues, the university needs to create content to better represent our reality—not some playful animation that belongs in a Saturday morning cartoon.

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