The month of January is full of events put on by UBC Access & Diversity to promote Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to create a culture where dialogue regarding sexual assault can be held openly.
The theme of the month is 'Let’s Start Talking.' Access & Diversity believes that education about sexual assault will begin once the student body is able to discuss sexual assault openly and without taboo.
According to CJ Rowe, diversity advisor UBC Access & Diversity, there needs to be more education on what constitutes consent in a sexual relationship.
"I think about the sort of education that is given to students," said Rowe. "There’s a lot of education on intercourse and how to be safer but there isn’t a lot on ‘What is consent?’, ‘How do you engage in consensual relationships, whether it's a friend or someone you want to hook up with?”
Access & Diversity wants to clear the confusion surrounding some of these questions about the nature of sexual assault and consent through events like their Anti-Violence Ally Training day on January 20. Ultimately the goal of this month is to draw the attention of students and create a culture that is open to discussion.
According to Rowe, many students might believe that sexual assault is not an issue that concerns them because they have never sexually assaulted someone or been sexually assaulted themselves. However, Access & Diversity emphasizes the need for enlisting the entire community to make meaningful cultural changes.
“How do we get our community members to be more present and aware in those drinking or party situations where people are more vulnerable? I think we can create much more of a bystander community where we begin to take care of each other,” said Rowe.
On January 27, Access & Diversity will be hosting Strong Communities Make Police Obsolete, a discussion on community-based solutions for creating safe spaces for victims of violence, with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha.
Access & Diversity hopes that the wide variety of events and activities will be easily accessible to all students regardless of their level of education regarding sexual assault.
“We are hoping that people will find their own way to engage with the conversation this month whether it’s going to an event, reading an article or having conversations with friends,” said Rowe.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is focused on including all UBC students, with some of the events also reaching out to specific communities.
Some of the events also include a screening of Stalled, a short film about the quotes found on bathroom stalls across North America, on January 20 and the 'Start Talking' art show on January 25.
January 21 will be Wear Denim Day, when people are encouraged to wear denim to express solidarity with victims of sexual assault following a 1998 court ruling to overturn a rape charge because the victim was wearing tight jeans.