This month, UBC is participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an initiative meant to raise awareness for issues surrounding sexual assault. Both the university and the AMS's Sexual Assault Support Center (SASC) are holding events in order to educate the UBC community on consent and the impact assaults have on survivors.
“Changing the attitudes, the assumptions, and the competencies of all members of our campus community is critical to addressing sexual assault at UBC and in society at large,” said Janet Mee, director of Access and Diversity. “[UBC] defines itself as a community and as a series of communities, and so doing this kind of work is a critical component of shifting [rape] culture.”
The university has been participating in Sexual Assault Awareness month for the past eight years, and is holding events throughout January.
“Last Thursday, January 11, we hosted our Sexual Assault Awareness Month keynote, presented by Kim Katrin Milan, who explored the topics of consent and doing anti-violence work on campus. It was a really great event and we had over 140 people attend,” said Ashley Bentley, advisor for sexual assault intervention and prevention for UBC.
Coming up on January 18 is Denim Day, in which UBC community members are encouraged to wear denim to show support in ending sexual assault on campus. You can get Denim Day stickers at the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers, the SASC, and the Wellness Center.
“One of the other objectives of [Sexual Assault Awareness Month] is to try to draw members of our community into a conversation who otherwise maybe wouldn’t be part of this conversation. Lots of the [initiative's] events are really popular with people who are passionate about this work, but we also want to engage the general campus community, so Denim Day is one of the ways that we do that,” said Mee.
The SASC has also been an active participant in Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On January 11, the Centre held its first workshop of the month, which was led by Canadian author Amber Dawn. The event was “a process-based workshop on creative writing for personal reflection and self care,” said Shilo St. Cyr, manager of the SASC. “We had a huge turnout and it was full immediately.”
The same day, the SASC also held an event titled “Shades of Resistance: Healing through Art”, which St. Cyr explained was “an evening of storytelling and community care that centered around the experience of survivors of racialized violence in all its forms.”
“I think it’s really important to bring any sort of awareness [to UBC] and to talk about sexual assault, and provide information around the fact that it happens here on campus and that it disproportionately affects marginalized communities,” said St. Cyr. “This is why the SASC took our direction around bringing awareness to the fact that [sexual violence] does disproportionately affect marginalized communities because of multiple systems of oppression.”
On that theme, the SASC will also be holding an event titled “Race, Racialization, and Sexual Assault Workshop” on January 19 at 12:00–1:30 p.m. in the Nest, room 2504.
“You can have all of the policies that you want in the world, or all of the procedures and protocols, but without people fundamentally understanding the origins of rape culture and how to be a respectful ally or active bystander, we’re really never going to address these issues,” said Mee.
This article previously stated that the "Shades of Resistance" event centred around "the experience of survivors of radicalized violence in all its forms.” The sentence should have read: "...racialized violence in all its forms.” The Ubyssey regrets this error.