Brock University’s Student Justice Centre is about to start its first campaign of the year. The topic will focus on sexual violence prevention.
The SJC campaign, headed by Manchari Paranthahan and Lydia Collins, has been created in an effort to address and help prevent intersecting factors that lead to sexual violence, such factors include consent and rape culture while providing students with information in case situations of sexual violence might occur on or off campus. The campaign will include table set-ups in Mackenzie Chown A block over the next two weeks as well as two additional workshops to allow students a space to discuss and deconstruct current modes of sexual violence prevention.
The table set-up will include a white board with a series of questions about consent in an effort to create dialogue on a subject that can often feel like a grey area for many. Examples of these types of questions would be: is it assault if we both consent while drinking? Is it assault if I retract my consent halfway through? The workshop, which will include a slide show, will attempt to give students a safe space to discuss consent in order to help educate and hopefully prevent more cases of sexual violence.
Additional topics will include non-sexual consent and situations that are not entirely sexual but still include intersect with the subject of rape culture and bodily autonomy.
“We wanted to make sure that it was accessible to everyone,” Paranthahan says.
The campaign is due to the harsh reality of North American universities and colleges, culture that is not always discussed openly.
“Sexual assault unfortunately is something that is very predominant on campuses,” Collins says. “We want to make sure that students are protected and that they know their rights so that this kind of violence can be prevented.”
The campaign, which aims to make sexual violence prevention information accessible to all students, comes up at the beginning of the school year for an important reason.
“September is a very vulnerable time for everyone because there’s lots of environments where this could happen,” says Paranthahan. “Especially looking at campus culture like drinking and partying. Some people are doing these things for the first time or are on their own for the first time.”
Collins furthers this when she says, “there’s things about yourself and your body that you might not understand yet and experiences that you might not have encountered yet and you may not know how to deal with. We’re conditioned so much in elementary school and high school that your body is your parents, your teachers. You’re constantly told to say yes. It’s important that they’re understanding now more than ever that their body is their own.”
These sentiments echo the large issue of the reporting, or lack thereof, of sexual assaults on campuses across North America. Whether due to traumatic experiences or simply being unaware of how one might go about reporting a sexual assault, students are not coming forward. This campaign, while addressing subjects of prevention, will also provide students with information on who to talk to and how to go about reporting or seeking additional help on or off campus as well.
Collins furthers this idea by suggesting that, “So much of the information that we are fed about sexual violence comes from media, comes from entertainment. The way that people understand rape and sexual violence is always such an extreme level of grotesque and that’s the only way they will recognize it.
“It’s not going to look the same for everyone. Not every survivor is going to heal in the same way.”
While the campaign will be running for the next few weeks, both Paranthahan and Collins hope that the topic will be one that continues creating dialogue throughout the school year. Additionally, through educating and providing information, SJC hopes to help make Brock’s campus and residences a safer place to be.
If you or someone you know is going through any discrimination, or violence on campus, visit the Student Justice Centre located at Thistle 252A. They offer a variety of support for survivors, such as free and confidential peer support, advocacy, and providing referral’s.