08 Sep Response to the Guardian story on Sept. 5, 2017
A recent article in the Guardian regarding student safety at the outset of the new school year was brought to the attention of the UPEI Student Union, largely due to concerns surrounding the tone of certain comments in said article. While they were no doubt well-intentioned, the framing of these comments demonstrated a lack of understanding of the complexities of sexual violence and are an example of some problematic messaging.
Comments such as “you just have to be aware of the consequences” and “be responsible for your own actions” insinuate that those who are assaulted whilst under the influence of alcohol are somehow responsible for their own assault. This is called victim-blaming, and it has no place in our university community.
This type of messaging ends up discouraging survivors of sexual assault from coming forward due to the feelings of shame, guilt, and uncertainty that they can incite. As the university gears up to work on implementing a sexual assault policy at UPEI, it is extremely important that we address problematic messaging any time it is encountered in our community. Whenever we are approaching conversations involving topics of sexual violence, we must be extremely thoughtful in the delivery of messages and in the use of language.
The first meeting of the UPEI Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Task Force will take place today, September 8th. We look forward to utilizing this opportunity to discuss the importance of accurate and thoughtful communication when dealing with topics of sexual violence.
We remain confident in the University’s commitment to addressing sexual violence on campus and supporting survivors. The UPEI Student Union has every intention of continuing to play an integral role in these efforts by actively collaborating with the University.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Vice-President Academic & External, Taya Nabuurs, at email@example.com or 902-566-0648.
If you are in need of emotional support, please contact Student Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the support options that are available to students.
If you’re interested in being involved in a student-led initiative to help combat sexual violence on our campus, please fill out this application form to become a member of the Our Turn UPEI Chapter.
For reference, the Guardian article discussed above is linked here.