We are deeply outraged and devastated by the reports of sexual and gender-based violence in on-campus residences during last week’s orientations. While investigations are still ongoing and the full scope of these events is yet to be determined, we want to make it clear that PSAC 610 stands unequivocally in solidarity with the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as all those in our community who feel the reverberations of these horrific events. Violence and sexual assault have no place in our society, and cannot be condoned in our campus community.
Let us be clear: these events did not come out of nowhere. Western has a culture and history of pro-rape chants during O-week and homecoming. Misogynistic banners that promote gender-based violence have historically been routinely put up on off-campus housing, and the university has provided no transparency around what happens to the perpetrators of these acts of gender-based violence. Western is particularly bad for sexual violence – a 2019 report showed that 1/3 students had been sexually assaulted in the previous 12 months & 71% had been sexually harassed. These are some of the worst numbers in all postsecondary institutions in Canada.
Misogyny is not a joke. It is partly the culture of insouciance to misogyny, allowed to persist for many years at Western, that led to the troubling incidents of the past week. Perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence must be held to account, and Western must do more to live up to its institutional mandate to protect its students.
We call on Western to recognize this institution’s role in fomenting an environment that is unsafe for women and gender minorities on campus. We also call on Western to immediately address this issue of gender-based and sexual violence on campus by doing the following:
Implement rigorous and mandatory trauma & gender-based and sexual violence (GBSV) education training modules for all students, staff and faculty at Western University.
Take concrete steps to introduce orientation week programs that challenge and dismantle structures of misogyny currently existing in this institution that result in gender-based sexual violence and inequality.
Immediate expulsion of all perpetrators of the sexual assaults and gender-based violence in on-campus residences during orientation week.
Be more transparent about actions taken to identify and punish perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence in our community.
Directly address the ‘party’ culture at this institution, including the free rein given to fraternities and sororities, and the negative impact that these environments create.
Section 20.06 of the PSAC 610 Collective Agreement states that “there shall be no Harassment, Sexual Harassment or Workplace Violence exercised against or by any Employee.” We encourage and support survivors and community members to report incidents through a dedicated gender-based violence survivor support case manager on campus at 519-661-3568 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporting and Counselling options can be found HERE. You can also contact us directly by emailing email@example.com.
We also call on our campus community to stand in solidarity with the survivors of gender- based and sexual violence on campus by joining us at the UWO Sexual & Gender-Based Violence Walk-Out at University College Hill this Friday, September 17, 2021 at 12pm EST.
The Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) has started a petition demanding that Western provide students throughout the community with safe conditions and education on gender-based and sexual violence. We ask that you sign this petition HERE.
We understand that this is a difficult time for many of our members reeling from the news of the past week. We would like to remind you that we offer support through our mental health fund and financial assistance fund, to help cover any costs associated with seeking a mental health professional. We also have access to the employment assistance (EAP) program through the University, which is offered by Morneau Shepell and offers 24/7 individual counselling, crisis support services, and group therapy. You will also find below a list of support resources that may be of help to you in this time:
ANOVA: the product of a merger between London’s Women’s Community House and Sexual Assault Centre London, ANOVA provides counselling for female-identified survivors of recent and historical experiences of gender-based and sexual violence. 24-hour crisis & support line: (519) 642-3000.
Empower Me: Free remote mental health and wellness support 24/7 in Canada and the U.S. for Western University graduate students. Empower me is a multilingual service that pairs graduate students with trained professionals via telephone. Not happy with the counsellor you are matched with? To access Empower Me, call 1-833-628-5589.
Reach Out: Free, 24/7, confidential mental health support and services line for people living in Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford and London.
Talk4Healing is a free, culturally grounded and fully confidential telephone help line for Indigenous women throughout Ontario. Talk4Healing is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with services in Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Cree and English: 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
A dedicated gender-based violence and survivor support case manager on campus: https://www.uwo.ca/health/student_support/survivor_support/index.html, firstname.lastname@example.org, 519-661-356.
The PSAC 610 Executive