Combatting Laurier's rape culture

Laurier Brantford addresses gendered violence and rape culture amid telling report.

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  1. Janica Barton, a Wilfrid Laurier University Concurrent Education student, was surprised to hear that her school now carries the label of having about 40 per cent of its students experiencing gendered violence. This came about following a report released by The Change Project, which detailed the findings of a survey conducted in 2013.
  2. "I feel super comfortable here, I’ve never experienced gender violence with anybody here or heard anything... I’m not blind-facing it, but I just don’t see it," Barton said.
  3. Conducted over the course of a month, the survey included 570 Laurier student participants. Final results revealed that gendered violence is a prominent issue facing students today, as seen in the infographic below which summarizes the results.
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  5. Although the findings were significant, most of the information came from the Waterloo campus, with very little focus on Brantford. This has led to multiple groups taking initiative to further explore the issue in Brantford.
  6. The Rape Culture Project, headed by Rebecca Godderis, Marcia Oliver and Debra Langan has been focusing on the idea of rape culture in Brantford and how it contributes to acts of gendered violence.
  7. According to Oliver, the definition of rape culture that they are working with, "is the types of practices that we engage in together as a society that make sexual violence seem normal, or natural."
  8. According to Godderis, many people understand how rape culture affects women but may not be aware of how men are affected by the issue.
  9. "Certainly you can go to the notion that of course young men experience violence as well... but its more than that. I think one of the keys is that what we want to talk about is the relationships between men and women, and because rape culture exists in a certain way, it makes those relationships more difficult."
  10. Godderis said that most men experience a cultural stereotype which keeps them from exploring their emotions. "So if a young man doesn’t want to engage in sex at a particular time, it's actually really hard for him to articulate that because we expect that men shouldn’t talk about their emotions and feelings. We also expect that they want it all the time."
  11. The goals of the initiative are to collect data about Brantford students and see where their concerns lie. "So we want to be able to start conversations with Adam Lawrence, other folks and administrations, and conversations with students and the city."
  12. Adam Lawrence, dean of students at Laurier Brantford, has similar concerns. According to Lawrence, Laurier needs to be looking at a stand-alone policy which combats gendered violence and is jointly developed by students and faculty - approved by the board.
  13. "The [Laurier] Gender Violence steering committee has agreed to adopt the recommendations from the Change Project into the Brantford community because they are principals that should be adopted all around the country," said Lawrence. "And I will say this, I’ll say it on record, I've been in Brantford for two years, and sometimes people on this campus think that what's happening should only be for Brantford students, whereas other schools share across the board."
  14. Lawrence explains that "these things are in motion." Lawrence said that if someone is a victim of an act of gender violence, they should have multiple places where they can disclose- not just one location.
  15. "We don’t want them to come to one place on campus, we want them to have a variety of places. But people need to know, that if you go to special constables, they’re gonna direct you right to the police."
  16. Godderis agrees with Lawrence. Students at Laurier need to know where to go and what resources are available to them on campus and in their community.
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