Last Updated on October 24, 2020 by Samantha Dalcourt
Sexual assault on Queen’s campus is prevalent with officials claiming the university to have the 2nd highest rate of cases in Ontario, expressed by students, and the Queen’s community.
As numbers of cases increase, students, alumni, and members of the community know it is essential to combat these incidents, and give voices to those experiencing non-consensual trauma—a safe space to help potentially dismantle these acts from reoccurring—to reveal how little tolerance the Queen’s community actually has in regards to sexual assault, and violent acts against anyone.
This can include, but is not limited to males, females, non-binary humans, etc. However, the truth was revealed when Queen’s was ranked as the second-highest in the amount of sexual harassment, and reported as such by Global News, and The Student Voices on Sexual Violence Climate Survey, 2020.
@consentatqueens, a page created earlier this year, was created in response to these surveys that reached students last March. According the Maeve Avis Kozar and Megan Sieroka, the creators, “it was created to get the attention of the administration and to put pressure on those in power to create changes that will have a longstanding cultural impact on campus.”
The page gives survivors a chance to tell their stories. “This campaign is part of a wider initiative to change consent culture, protect survivors, and make Queen’s a safer space.” The co-founder said.
Its founders noted that, “@consentatqueens strives to create a space for students to voice their experiences with sexual assault/violence and broader non-consensual experiences at Queen’s University. This page hopes to spark institutional change and raise awareness for the extremely high numbers of sexual assault at Queen’s.”
“I hope that the work our club is doing will further the efforts of previous clubs and overall aim to make Queen’s campus safer for everyone who attends and works at this school”. (Maeve Avis Kozar, founder and creator of @consentatqueens, and @chqueensu)
Both Kozar and Sieroka were motivated “because [they] were not seeing adequate action on campus to make sexual assault survivors safer and to improve consent culture. There has been a pressing need for years to lower sexual assault and sexual violence numbers, yet no substantial changes have been made to do this nor have any been successful.”
Objectives of the page
@consentatqueensu is organized into 3 motive-based pillars:
- To humanize—make concerns evident, tangible and recognizable by people, the concerning sexual assault statistics, and provide agency to the people behind the numbers through raising awareness.
- Secondly, to empower survivors and make sure those who have experienced sexual violence on or off-campus know they’re not alone.
- Thirdly, to create institutional and cultural change.
The stories are reached through an open and anonymous Google form that can be found on both the Consensual Humans Instagram (@chqueensu) and the @Consentatqueens Instagram.
Maeve, and Megan have a message for the Queen’s administration. “First, to have mandatory prevention and response training for all staff, including professors, administrators, and other faculty. Some of the anonymous submissions highlighted how they were met with unhelpful advice from Queen’s services that often deterred them from reaching out for further support”
Survivors are, for the most part, not comfortable bringing their experiences forward to resources at Queen’s. They don’t feel safe talking to the administration, especially now since the new Sexual Violence Policy highlights that some of their information must be shared if they disclose to staff. While the policy has been helpful in some ways, there is a long way to go.
“Second, we want all incoming students, both first-years and exchange students, to complete mandatory consent modules to help them understand basic concepts on consent, bystander intervention training, and more. Currently, modules are not mandatory and therefor are less likely to reach those who need this information and education” Said a co-founder.
Moving forward, Queen’s Consensual Humans plans to collaborate with resources on campus in support of creating awareness.
Meeting Taylor MacPherson, who is in the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response (SVPR) Outreach role at Queen’s and raising a number of concerns, asking about the goals and actions within her department is just one of them.
They’ve met with Barbara Lotan at the beginning of the summer to discuss how “Consensual Humans, and more broadly Queen’s clubs, can make a difference on campus this coming year especially with resources and attention being focused online” Said a co-founder.
Consensual humans will continue to interact with the Queen’s administration in order to make changes.
More than anything, Consensual Humans hopes to “Foster a sense of community at Queen’s and support survivors. We were largely inspired by @stolenbysmith (on Instagram), but differ from them in the sense that we share stories from all faculties at Queen’s.“
“We recognize that sexual violence and lack of consent is a university-wide issue” says Kozar and Saueve.
Although “Walkhome”, “Queen’s First Aid”, blue light services, and residence advisors are encouraged to talk, about consent, and to combat sexual assault, numbers are only increasing, making it evident that the queen’s community isn’t as aware of what consent actually is, how serious sexual assault is, and how it can impact them even in relationships.
Consensual issues are so important to discuss given how close students live amidst one another on a daily basis. A big part of providing insight for students, is educating them on what consent is, and isn’t, and how sexual assault can happen to anyone of any gender, sex, religion, ethnicity, etc.
Once they’re educated, it is important students have a place they feel safe enough to come forward—even if they’re unsure which is what Consensual Humans hopes to rectify.
Since the page was created, several incidents have come to light.
Consensual Humans encourages you to share your experience, too. Visit their @Consentatqueens Instagram page to submit a post.