Rape culture and sexual assault are continuing problems on university campuses. Students are stepping up to get their voices heard and to break the silence at Brock University.
Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA) is a new student group that was created to raise awareness about sexual violence at Brock and in the Niagara community.
“We emerged as a grassroots organization out of concern about sexual assault of members on campus and the university’s policies in response to such violence,” explains Lauren Quinn, MA student in Social Justice and Equity Studies.
According to SASA’s mandate, “sexual violence is perpetuated on post-secondary campuses when survivors are silenced, isolated, ignored, and excluded from decision-making processes and discussions about how to respond to sexual violence.”
SASA consists of undergraduate and graduate students that “aim to break this silence and unite survivors, so that voices are heard and honoured”.
The group also wants to provide a safe space for survivors of sexual violence on campus, regardless of gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, culture, or ability.
“Sometimes spaces that are created to help end sexual violence are particularly oppressive, further silencing survivors who are the most susceptible to sexual violence,” said Quinn.
“For example, in certain mainstream feminist circles, trans women’s experiences are discredited. We want to be upfront that one of our main initiatives is to provide spaces where voices that are often silenced and ignored are heard and at the forefront of the discussions about sexual violence on campus.”
For their first event, SASA is partnering with the Brock Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies Department, the Student Justice Centre (SJC), and CUPE 4207 to show the documentary It Happened Here. The film shares the stories of five women that have been affected by sexual assault on their college campuses in the United States.
“Sexual assault isn’t something that is geographically restricted and the experiences individuals have on campuses in the United States resonate with experiences of university students in Canada,” says Rachel Easterbrook, third-year Child Health major. “So showing the film is still important to start the conversation around sexual assault on campuses here.”
The It Happened Here documentary screening is taking place in Sankey Chambers on Thursday November 26 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Free vegan snacks will be provided.
After their inaugural event, SASA will be working towards building ideas for a sexual assault awareness week next semester. They intend to host panellist speakers and deliver a variety of workshops pertaining to sexual violence.
For more information about Students Against Sexual Assault, check out Facebook.com/SASABrock. To volunteer with SASA, email BrockSASA@gmail.com
The Brock Press