Residence Don creates an online campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of sexual assault

It has been reported by CBC News, that more than 700 sexual assaults were reported at Canadian universities and colleges over the past five years. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that 44 per cent of female students experienced some form of sexual violence or unwanted sexual touching while attending university.

At Brock University, a third-year Child and Youth Studies student, Quynn Oates, has been raising awareness about sexual violence with the
#ItCanHappenHere campaign.

“Essentially our objective is to raise awareness on the stigmas that come along with sexual violence, specifically issues on post secondary campuses. Our secondary objective is to help people from Brock of all different backgrounds and experiences become involved in this campaign, which makes the campaign more meaningful…” Oates said.

Sexual violence can happen literally any place, anytime and to any individual, which is why this is such an important concept to get across the students. “We wanted to educate students on this because we believe they must know about the safety precautions, and where they can find support on the subject. We believe each individual should know as much as they can on the topic.”

Oates has been passionate about this topic for quite some time now. He recognizes the stigma around young people experiencing sexual violence on post-secondary campuses, specifically at Brock.

“There have been various cases within at least my time here at the school where a fairly large population of people simply do not believe that sexual violence happens here,” says Oates. “I also am passionate about this because I became frustrated that many people also did not believe that individuals of any sort can experience sexual violence throughout their lifetime. We have a diverse school, and it is important for each person to know their rights, their responsibilities, and their support.”

But how does this campaign balance awareness and safety without instilling fear? Oates said this is definitely something that he’s thought about thoroughly and reminded students of the safety that is available at Brock and the methods of support for them. “Essentially, we wanted to be blunt about how sexual violence is an everyday occurrence, and that this needs to stop- especially the stigma around it. Our best way to balance awareness with fear is to continue to grow our methods of support, and let students know as this progresses.”

Students who are looking to report an incident, can contact the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Centre, The Student Justice Centre or Campus Security. Student also have the option to contact Allison Cadwallader directly, (the Brock Sexual Violence Response and Education Coordinator) and she can help with the reporting process.

Loredana Del Bello, Assistant Campus News Editor 

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