All Posts Tagged With: "sexual assault"
Instead of drinking, focus on the sex predators next door
Last month, hundreds paraded through the campus of the University of British Columbia to protest sexual violence, speciﬁcally six unsolved late-night outdoor attacks on female students since April. A hooded predator prowling dark grounds in search of coeds is a familiar conceit, one that informs how we think of sexual violence on campuses. Recently it was given airing in a Toronto Life story that claimed increased safety measures at Toronto’s York University, where women receive “rape whistles” at orientation, haven’t prevented campus grounds from being “a hunting ground for sexual predators.” (The school has taken legal action, claiming the article “presents a wholly distorted picture of women’s safety on the campus.”) Yet the UBC march to “Take Back the Night”—a rallying cry since the ’70s—bristled with more nuanced references to the reality of campus sexual assault, the vast majority of which are never reported nor easily framed in black-and-white terms. Signs held high connected the current attacks with entrenched “rape culture”—sexual violence being ignored, condoned and normalized, witnessed in the “rape chant” on the UBC campus in September. Other placards decried the RCMP reporting some UBC victims were wearing short skirts: “My little black dress does not mean yes,” read one.
UBC administration responded to concerns and fear with predictable reassurances. President Stephen Toope described the university as “one of the safest campuses in North America” and announced “unprecedented police and security measures to make sure students feel safe.”
Mounties release sketch of man suspected in six assaults
VANCOUVER – Mounties have released a composite sketch of the man believed to be behind six sexual assaults since April at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The sketch shows a Caucasian man wearing a hooded sweater, with an olive or darker skin tone, a rounder chin, broad forehead, straight nose and short dark hair.
All six victims were walking alone late at night when they were jumped from behind and groped, and one was punched in the face.
Three of the attacks occurred in October, one was reported in late September and investigators announced last month that separate incidents in April and May are also connected.
UBC President Stephen Toope says the attacks are an extremely unusual occurrence on what he calls one of the safest campuses in North America.
Some offended by Robin Thicke’s provocative lyrics
The Students’ Society of McGill University has opted not to ban the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, known for its refrain, “I know you want it.” The song has long been criticized for lyrics that some say encourage and trivialize sexual assault.
There were seven votes in favour of the ban, eight opposed and 11 abstentions, according to the McGill Tribune. The motion was put forward by student Sarah Southey, who said the lyrics could trigger bad memories for assault victims when played at the campus bar. Brian Farnan, a SSMU vice-president, was opposed to the proposed censorship. “This will set a frightening precedent, when we start to ban artistic content in a student building in a university,” he said.
Several student unions in the United Kingdom, including those at the universities of London, Kingston, Edinburgh, Leeds, Derby, West Scotland and Bolton, have banned the song. Durham University’s students voted against a ban after some argued it would trivialize feminism.
Hundreds expected at rally after sex assaults
VANCOUVER – Six sex assaults at the University of British Columbia have resulted in an unprecedented police presence on the campus where fear has spread among students, staff and the community, says the facility’s president.
Stephen Toope told a news conference that unlike many other inner-city universities, UBC is situated on a large amount of open space, requiring a different type of response to give people a sense of security.
“This is one of the safest campuses in North America. There is not normally a climate of fear or of insecurity on the campus,” he said.
RCMP’s major crimes section has taken over the investigation and say one man is believed to be responsible for three attacks this month and similar incidents in April, May and September.
RCMP step up patrols
VANCOUVER – RCMP say there has been another sex attack at UBC on the weekend and police have concluded the string of assaults are the work of the same man.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen says a woman who was walking alone on the campus at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday noticed a shadow walking behind her before she was grabbed from behind.
As in the previous cases, the victim flailed her arms and struggled and the suspect ran away.
There have now been six attacks on the campus over the previous weeks and Thiessen says police have put additional resources into solving the case.
UBC officials say they are treating the matter with the utmost urgency and are looking for anyone with tips about the suspect.
The man is described as a Caucasian in his late 20s or early 30s, of slim build and somewhere around six feet tall.
Some say assault response too focused on fear
VANCOUVER – Women at the University of British Columbia are being urged to stay safe, don’t walk alone at night, carry a whistle, ask for a late-night escort.
But some on the campus gripped by worry over the presence of an apparent serial sex attacker are questioning why there isn’t more focus on condemning the crime in the first place.
Despite the good intentions of campus security to inform women of measures to protect themselves, the emphasis seems to be falling on only women, said Anisa Mottahed, manager of the Sexual Assault Support Centre at UBC.
“It’s not speaking to the population in a way that I think it should be,” said Mottahed. “So instead of focusing on the fear piece, looking at the collective responsibility piece is a little more important.”
Bus ads warn females
VANCOUVER – The University of British Columbia is putting extra safety measures in place following several sexual assaults on campus, but the response itself is stirring controversy just a few weeks after scandal erupted over a frosh-week rape chant.
The university is holding emergency meetings to alert students, handing out whistles and says it will install more lighting and step-up its late-night Safewalk program after three reported assaults.
The institution is also running a series of ads on 100 buses that come to the campus warning female students not to walk alone.
The response from one anonymous student is a series of unofficial posters warning males not to be rapists, saying a woman walking alone at night is not an invitation to assault.
Just last month, the Sauder School of Business, where the first-year commerce students involved in the chant attend class, was defaced with graffiti attacking the “rape culture” at the university.
Louise Cowin, vice-president of students for UBC, says practical safety measures are the priority, but she says a wider discussion is necessary and the university is forming a group to look at the issue and report back with recommendations.
Testing out the safety service after multiple attacks
On Thursday night, I waited at the corner of Main Mall and Agricultural Road at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. It was dark and foggy. Any other night, I might have just braved the six minute walk to the Student Union Building, but after two assaults involving young women on campus earlier this month—a 19-year-old was groped under her skirt at 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 28 and a 20-year-old was attacked on Oct. 13— I wanted to test out Safewalk, the student-run program providing chaperones to those who feel unsafe walking alone at night.
Although I spent four years at UBC and knew about the service from day one, I’d never bothered to call. I’m not the only one.
Safewalk is a student service available across Canada, usually manned by volunteers, although the Alma Mater Society student group that runs it at UBC pays its walkers. After a string of assaults—there was at least one more reported over the weekend when a 17-year-old girl was dragged into the bushes late at night and left with a black eye—I knew there would be renewed discussion about the service, which is used to reassure students that measures are in place to protect them. Indeed, the RCMP recommended on Monday that women not walk alone at night and instead use Safewalk. Last week, I wanted to see: how useful is it?
I called at 8:03 p.m., a few minutes after Safewalk started taking requests for the night. They answered my call right away and said someone would be there in under 30 minutes. Perhaps due to the recent spike in assaults, the service was busier than usual. Regardless, it felt too long to wait.
Yes, rapists are responsible, not low-cut tops, but…
This week Slate advice columnist Emily Yoffe incurred the wrath of Twitter with her ambitiously titled column, “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk”. Yoffe’s argument? College women should refrain from getting blotto because a lot of sexual assaults on campus involve alcohol; women who don’t imbibe excessively may be less susceptible to sexual assault. She writes:
“Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.”
Anger over rape chant continues
A former student at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax returned two degrees Tuesday that he earned 18 years ago at the school, saying he’s disgusted by a chant sung at frosh week that glorified the sexual assault of underage girls.
Trailed by a group of reporters, Daren Miller of Calgary walked to the school’s campus carrying his bachelor’s degrees in arts and commerce where he was met by the university’s registrar, Paul Dixon.
The two exchanged few words before Dixon took the scrolls and walked away.
“To me, those degrees are valueless,” said Miller, 42. “I wanted to distance myself (from) the embarrassment and shame I felt from this sort of culture.
“I am not that kind of guy.”
Commerce society student leaders resign
VANCOUVER – Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society have quit and the annual frosh orientation will end after students at the Sauder School of Business took part in a chant that appeared to endorse rape.
President Enzo Woo said in a news release Wednesday the performance of the offensive chant at the society’s orientation event on the Labour Day weekend should never have happened.
He said the fact the chant is tradition isn’t an excuse and doesn’t make the offense less serious.
“I am deeply remorseful at what has transpired. It would be naive to think that these problems can be solved overnight, but we have an opportunity moving forward to institute a culture of recovery and acceptance,” Woo said.
University apologizes but Classified says he won’tCanadian rapper Classified—hired as a safe-choice replacement for American rapper Sean Kingston, who was facing a charge of rape until last week—joked about rape during his performance on Saturday night at Western University, according to some on Twitter. This prompted apologies from the student’s council and the school but not the performer, who Tweeted that he didn’t endorse rape. What’s clear is that he endorsed other bad behaviours like drinking.
Here’s one of the critical Tweets:
Essentially classified just told my frosh to get hammered, smoke weed all night, drop out of school and commit rape. Like get off the stage.
— Julia Orchard (@juliaorchard) September 8, 2013
The USC apologized swiftly. President Patrick Whelan said he did not hear the rape comment.
The comments expressed on stage tonight do not reflect that of the orientation program at western, sexual assault is never a joke.
— USC of Western U (@western_usc) September 8, 2013
The University released astatement that stopped short of referencing sexual assault:
“The University Students’ Council (USC) and Western regret the actions of and commentary made by the artist Classified Saturday night on stage at the Orientation Week concert. Both groups felt the performance did not reflect the mission, values and messages of the Orientation Program.”
The rapper admitted to the jokes about substance use but not about sexual assault.
But yes I did rap about weed. Liquor and partying. I won't apologize for that.
— Classified (@classified) September 8, 2013
Many Tweeted in defence of the rapper and said his words were taken out of context.
Give it up for people who quote others out of context. Clear sarcasm about something @classified clearly did not support. Come on.
— Samik Doshi (@samik_doshi) September 8, 2013
This follows two other controversies where sexual assault was joked about during 2013 orientation week events. Last week a video went viral showing orientation leaders at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax shouting a cheer that included the words, “N… is for no consent.” It was quickly condemned and the student president resigned.
Officials will investigate
VANCOUVER – Officials at the University of British Columbia say they will investigate reports that a chant endorsing non-consensual sex was recited during frosh week.
A statement on the university’s website says it’s alleged the chant was made on one or more buses taking students between events during frosh orientation activities run by the UBC Commerce Undergraduate Society.
The statement says the university takes the reports “very seriously.”
It says a “thorough investigation” will be conducted jointly by the Sauder School of Business and the office of the vice-president.
Individuals, not “rape culture,” are at fault here
By now, anyone who reads the news will have heard of the appalling frosh-week chant at Saint Mary’s University in which students loudly proclaimed their interest in raping everyone’s little sister.
Appropriately, everyone was outraged. The news media was all over it, administrators fell over themselves to apologize, the student leader apologized, and there’s sensitivity training all around.
That was the right response. But these days it seems that we are no longer satisfied with bad behaviour being punished appropriately. It’s not enough that those who have done wrong are brought to account. Today, it seems, everyone must be brought to account for everything.
And so I shouldn’t have been surprised to see this editorial in the Dalhousie Gazette blaming me, you, and everyone we knew for the gormless barking of the leg-humping Huskies of Saint Mary’s.
Outrage over “N is for no consent…” chant
HALIFAX – Student leaders at Saint Mary’s University were widely criticized Thursday for performing a frosh-week chant glorifying the sexual assault of underage girls that has been part of orientation activities at the Halifax school for years.
Politicians, school administrators and students said they were shocked by a video of the song that circulated in social media, which spells out the word “young” with a comment after each letter and includes: “Y is for your sister … U is for underage, N is for no consent… .”
The chant was performed to about 400 students assembled on the football field at the university as part of its orientation week. A video of it was posted on Instagram on Wednesday, causing a deluge of criticism here and abroad.
Jared Perry, president of the Saint Mary’s Students’ Association, apologized Thursday for performing the chant with 80 male and female orientation leaders.
Orientation leaders apologize for jokes about sexual assault
HALIFAX – A spokesman for Saint Mary’s University in Halifax says senior administrators were shocked after seeing a video of students in a frosh-week chant condoning non-consensual sex with underage girls.
Steve Proctor says the “sexist and offensive” chant posted on Instagram was led by student orientation leaders at the campus.
Proctor says the Labour Day incident occurred just days after senior school administrators and police met with student union officials and orientation organizers stressing the importance of discouraging sexism and sexual assault during frosh week.
“We were surprised,” he said in an interview.
“The senior director of student services had met with the (student) executive and the organizing committee … and spoke about these very issues and the need to be respectful.”
This wouldn’t be the first false accusation of hate on campus
A former student at the University of Wyoming who said she was threatened with rape by a Republican in a post on the UW Crushes Facebook page may have written the comment herself.
Meghan Lanker-Simons has pleaded not guilty to interfering with a peace officer after police, with the help of university officials, traced the comment to her IP address and login. The post read in part, “that chick that runs her liberal mouth all the time… one night with me and she’s gonna be a good Republican (explicit four-letter word).”
Lanker-Simons is known to champion left-wing political causes. She filed a lawsuit against the university to force it to allow 1960s radical Bill Ayers to speak on campus. Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, an anti-war group that bombed the U.S. Capitol.
Lanker-Simons wouldn’t be the first to falsely report hate crimes or harassment on campus.
‘Just because you regret a one night stand…’ say copycats
An edgy marketing campaign developed at the University of Alberta that aims to prevent sexual assault by focusing on changing the behaviour of perpetrators (usually men) rather than victims (usually women) has been co-opted by someone or some group trying to shift the blame back to women.
Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton, a coalition that fights rape, designed the “Don’t be that guy” social marketing campaign. Their materials have blunt messages like, “Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to f**k,” and, “It’s not sex when she’s wasted. Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault.” They’re seen as so effective that they’ve been used in campaigns as far away as Australia.
The copycat posters say things like, “Just because you regret your life choices, doesn’t mean it’s rape. Don’t be that girl,” and, “Just because you regret a one-night stand, doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual. Don’t be that girl.” One shows a woman with a cocktail.
Lise Gotell, Chair of Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Alberta and SAVE member, says the “upsetting” copycat posters showed up in downtown Edmonton and on campus this weekend.
Police in Kamloops, B.C. seek photos, videos
Mounties in Kamloops, B.C., are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a teenager at a bush party attended by as many as 1,000 high school graduates.
Police say the 17-year-old girl became separated from her friends, was approached by a male she didn’t know and was taken into a wooded area where she was sexually assaulted on Tuesday night.
When the teen arrived home from the party, she told her parents what happened and they took her to hospital and called police.
RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said the event strongly resembled other recent sexual assault cases in Canada where witnesses have photographs or videos of the incident and then posted them online.
Incidents may be related
RCMP at the University of British Columbia are warning students to be vigilant after two women say they were groped on campus. The latest incident occurred on May 19 at 2:50 a.m. on Wesbrook Mall near Thunderbird Blvd. A 20-year-old says she was grabbed on the buttocks under her skirt.
“The woman said the suspect appeared to be a Middle Eastern-looking man, in his early to mid-20s, with a slim build, 5’8″ tall, dark brush cut hair and a stubble beard with an oval shaped face. He was wearing a gray hooded jacket, dark blue jeans and white runners,” said Sergeant Peter Thiessen of the University RCMP in a statement. He also told The Province the man was “Persian-looking.”
The other incident occurred on April 19 at 10:35 p.m. A 36-year-old says she was walking into a building on Larkin Dr. when a man lifted up her skirt and grabbed her buttocks. That man was described as of unknown race, 5’9″, wearing a dark top, dark pants and dark shoes with white trim.