*** This article has been updated since the time of print due to errors that have been corrected. ***
Larisa Fry has been named the new Sexual Violence Coordinator at Brock. The original coordinator was replaced with an interim; however the position is now filled permanently by a well-known advocate for survivors of sexual violence in the community.
Fry has come into her new position with experience and passion. Her journey began at the University of Windsor, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Fry has since received advanced credentials in the areas of psychotherapy and counselling, and spent years working in the field.
“What drew me to this role is that it brought my two interests together. I taught at Mohawk before and I taught at Niagara College, so I have that teaching element. I also love doing training and workshop development,” said Fry. “You take that piece and mark it with my professional development which is in the field of psychotherapy and it seems to be a pretty good match. This role is a culmination of everything I have worked in.”
Fry emphasizes that the role has become community driven. This means students, faculty or staff can come to Fry with any instances pertaining to sexual violence on or off campus.
“This is client-focused. We are student-focused,” said Fry. “I have to emphasize that because we don’t just work with students; we also work with the faculty and the community. So there’s not limitations to my reach in that sense.”
In addition to the support being available for all who need it, Fry provides several other services for her clients.
“As part of the Human Rights and Equity group we are responsible for administering the sexual violence and harassment policy and that is the focus in my work. I am responsible for direct disclosures, so individuals who have had experiences on campus or off campus are welcome to come in here and talk to me about it. From there we take a look at what they want to do. In terms of supporting people — coming in, it is your determination what it is you want to do,” said Fry.
In a time where sexual violence is prevalent in our community, Fry responds with hope. She addressed the usefulness of education in particular.
“My role is also responsible for educating student, staff faculty and the community in regards to sexual violence,” said Fry. “We are just working on putting pieces together on what that would look like. We can think of it as education in the form of sitting down and doing a training session or education in something like the Tarana Burke event.”
This event was a presentation by Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement to raise awareness of and provide solidarity to survivors of sexual violence.
“I do see [#MeToo] as an awesome opportunity to start a conversation and to continue that conversation because consent is the basis of all of my work and it is the basis of our form of understanding. That, to me, is an amazing conversation, to be able to speak freely off and on the campus. So, when we think about education it is not only direct training but it is also in other forms. We have to be a little bit creative in terms of getting it out to the population because there are 19,000 of you and only one of me,” said Fry.
Fry emphasized that she does not believe in failure. Her prerogative claims that every step forwards or backwards is success in disguise.
“I often tell people it is not about making a 180 [degree]change, but it is a matter of degrees. If you change two degrees and then follow that out to a zen point it is still making a change. If I can be a part of that process that is amazing and brings me hope. That is what I hope for the Brock community.”
When asked where the Office of Human Rights and Equity is heading Fry maintained her optimistic outlook.
“Human Rights and Equity is fully staffed now which is amazing,” said Fry. “In [terms of] our ability to be able to move forward, we now have the support structure to be able to do so. In this department, we don’t necessarily have power, but we can/have influence.”
While Fry has extensive experience in the community, including serving on the Board of Directors of Women’s Place South Niagara, adapting to this role will take time.
“I am three weeks in. I am very much learning. This role was missing and this support was missing. So what gives me hope is the fact that they have decided to put this role in place and decided to give this role the support it needs to move forward. We are just in the process of laying out our plans for the next several years,” said Fry. “In terms of programming we are taking a look at practices among other universities, looking at Flip the Script, Stand Up, etc. and considering which one we feel would be beneficial to the Brock community, finding ways to bring them here and to implement them most successfully.”
In coming to this role Fry wishes to evoke dialogue among the Brock community pertaining to sexual violence, to create a safe space to foster those conversations and to provide support to respective community members.
“Sometimes I think the scariest thing for people is the fact that you are carrying this secret that is really big. It feels really big. It is not until you are able to let it leak a little that you can feel a little bit more in control. The advice [for survivors] is that you are not alone, there are people here to help you and very willing to do so. In terms of the Brock community: be open, be empathetic, be caring,” Fry said.
For any individuals needing support, information or simply to communicate, Fry encourages them to reach out to her.
“The door is always open. You can get a hold of me via phone or via email which is available on our website,” said Fry. “The door is there. Knock on it.”
Fry’s office is located in Mackenzie Chown E Block — room 215. She can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 905-688-5550 ex. 4387.