On March 2nd, the USC unanimously passed a motion to declare a sexual and gender-based violence crisis on campus. The language we use matters, and declaring a crisis communicates that we are more accurately and saliently reflecting the intensity and severity of what our students are experiencing and have been for generations. The word ‘crisis’ also articulates the urgency of this work – sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response work is of the utmost importance to our student body.
Western University’s return to campus for the 2021/2022 school year has been framed by the hurt and anger coming out of the allegations of sexual violence that took place during the first weeks of September. This prompted Western to create the Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Action Committee and announce a number of new safety and support measures. On February 2, 2022, the Action Committee submitted four recommendations to Acting President Sarah Prichard. Effective accountability mechanisms are vital to ensuring that the interim recommendations and subsequent full report of recommendations from the Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Action Committee are actioned by Western University. The USC welcomes this work and has endorsed the interim recommendations of the Gender-Based and Sexual Violence Action Committee in our March 2nd motion. While the Action Committee is doing valuable work, we still need university leadership to commit to meaningful accountability mechanisms and implementation timelines.
Sexual and gender-based violence is a cultural and structural issue that is not new to our campus; it has existed for generations, and committees or taskforces alone cannot produce adequate change on the timeline students need. We urge Western University to join the USC in recognizing a sexual and gender-based violence crisis on campus.
This violence has been instigated and perpetuated for generations across Western’s campuses past and present. The USC is committed to ensuring that future students do not have to contend with the sexual and gender-based violence that our current students and generations of former students have been forced to navigate.
We will continue to work closely with our student community to prioritze anti-sexual and gender-based violence work. Please email [email protected] with any questions, comments, or concerns.