Campuses should be safe spaces for students, but as a recent documentary shows they can be dangerous too.
On March 31, the University of Winnipeg (U of W) will host a screening and discussion of the sexual assault documentary The Hunting Ground.
The documentary addresses sexual assaults at post-secondary institutions and focuses on the stories of Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two activists who led a campaign to force the universities to address the issue.
The screening is organized by the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) and the group Ending Violence Across Manitoba. Clark and Pino will also be present to discuss their experiences and share ideas on how campuses in Manitoba can adopt a culture of consent.
“We just want to start this conversation. It’s a national problem we know that one in five women will be assaulted on campus during their time in university,” Emily Epp, vice-president internal affairs at the UWSA, says.
“This is clearly a big issue, we want to make sure that a conversation keeps going about this.”
While the people’s minds automatically go to rape when mentioning sexual assault, the problem is much broader than that, according to Epp.
“Obviously rape is a huge deal and it’s definitely part of sexual violence, but sexual violence doesn’t necessary have to be physical violence, it can be emotional violence, psychological violence and things that can really affect you as a person and your time here in university,” Epp says. “We wanted to make sure that the protocol covered those things as well.”
The event will include a screening of the film followed by a discussion with the two main activists from the documentary.
“Universities are supposed to be safe places for students, but many people who experience sexual assault on campuses have to see the perpetrator in classes, in the halls and in their dorms. This can have a serious affect on every aspect of a student’s life,” Marieke Gruwel, the coordinator of the Women-Trans Spectrum Centre at the U of W, says.
“Rape culture exists on our campuses and in our communities. Events such as this screening and discussion challenge this dominant culture and contribute to all the work that students have been doing to create a consent culture on our campuses.”
The main goals of the event are to raise awareness about sexaul assaults on campuses and to continue to move toward consent culture.
“We need to change the culture around sexual violence and assault and move from a rape culture towards a consent culture,” Epp says. “(It) is not ok that 20 per cent of women will experience that (sexual assault).”
“And it’s not just women. We know men experience sexual violence as well and we need to change the culture, so that people feel safe walking down the street at night and I don’t have to clench my keys in between my fingers.”