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Student Organizations Stand Against Rape Culture and Sexual Violence

For Immediate Release

Halifax, NS – Following the revelations of misogynistic incidents involving students at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry, Students Nova Scotia and its members have reiterated their commitment to supporting collective action to combat misogyny and rape culture. The full community, including individuals, student organizations, post-secondary institutions and government, need to work together to stamp out this culture and the sexual violence it facilitates.

“This incident is not isolated,” said Alicia Silliker, StudentsNS Vice President University Affairs. “We are not doing enough as individuals, families, student organizations, post-secondary institutions and a community to combat the aspects of our culture that are degrading and promote sexual violence. We need to speak out whenever we encounter sexism, homophobia and rape culture and build an understanding that these attitudes cannot be funny, they are unequivocally unacceptable.”

StudentsNS and its members have signed on to Impact Ethics’ Statement Against Misogyny and Gendered Violence in solidarity with the Dalhousie community and in recognition of the need for change across all post-secondary institutions.

In January 2014, StudentsNS released Student Safety in Nova Scotia: A Review of Student Union Policies and Practices to Prevent Sexual Violence. The independent review highlighted the importance of peer-to-peer leadership in preventing sexual violence and fostering communities where students respect and support each other. It included 21 recommendations for student union programming and advocacy.

“We have identified many effective strategies that our student organizations and post-secondary institutions can pursue to combat a culture that condones sexual violence and increase understanding of consent among students”, said Callie Lathem, the President of the Acadia Students’ Union and then-Chair of the Review’s steering committee. “There are opportunities for change, we just need the political will and resources to make them happen. Proactivity and consistency are key – we cannot keep reacting to individual incidents and expect greater cultural change.”

Currently, the Provincial Government is preparing its first Sexual Violence Strategy. The Strategy provides an opportunity to coordinate efforts and resources across Nova Scotia and set standards for post-secondary institutions’ policies and initiatives.

“Given that serious incidents have occurred on different campuses across the province and across Canada, Government must recognize its responsibility to help shape a culture where such incidents do not occur”, said Ramz Aziz, StudentsNS Acting President.

Resources:

Sexual Assault Prevention Review: http://studentsns.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2014-01-12-sexual-assault-report-Final.pdf

Sexual Assault Prevention Review announcement: http://studentsns.ca/2014/01/review-offers-solutions-prevent-sexual-assaults-campus/

More than Yes Campaign announcement: http://studentsns.ca/2014/02/enthusiastic-consent-campaign-launched-nova-scotia-student-unions/

StudentsNS response to rape chant: http://studentsns.ca/2013/09/students-nova-scotia-condemns-sexist-and-misogynistic-chant-at-smu/

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Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS) is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 38,452 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 87% of the university student population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.

 

For more information or questions, please contact:

Jonathan Williams

StudentsNS Executive Director

(O) 902.422.4068

(C) 902.483.5480

(E) director@studentsns.ca

Or

Alicia Silliker, StudentsNS Vice President University Affairs

(C) 902.303.4347

(E) su_vp@stfx.ca

Or

Callie Lathem, Acadia Students’ Union President

(C) 902 489 1659

(E) lathemcallie@gmail.com

Kate Elliot