INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY: CRARR CO-HOSTS DISCUSSION PANEL ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE ON CAMPUS AS A CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUE
Montreal, March 4, 2016 — As part of its advocacy work to protect and promote students' civil rights, CRARR will co-host a panel on sexual violence on campus, which will be held next Monday on the 7th floor of the Hall Building of Concordia University, located at 1455 DeMaisonneuve West.
Co-hosted by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA), the event, held under the title, Dismantling Systems of Violence on Campus: What You Need to Know About Sexual Violence, aims to expand the dialogue of sexual violence on campus by means of incorporating a civil rights and intersectional approach that effectively reflects the diversity that exists within university student populations and staff. Moreover, the event aims to foster a discussion that will take into account recent incidents that have taken place in local universities.
One of these incidents refers to the case of “Mei Ling”, a biracial student executive at Concordia University who was continuously exposed to racism and sexism on the part of other student executives, and failed to obtain assistance and protection from the university. With CRARR's assistance, “Mei Ling” took her harassers and her student association, ASFA, to the human rights commission. ASFA settled the case last Fall, while the complaint against the two harassers continues to be investigated.
The March 7 activity, which marks the International Women's Day, will explore how sexual violence on campus should be treated as a fundamental violation of criminal and human rights laws that requires both direct and systemic responses for survivors, especially those who are disproportionally affected by it, such as First Nations women, people from different racialized and ethnic groups and sexual minorities.
Through an intersectional approach, the panel will examine the obstacles faced by survivors of sexual violence, and the ways and means of developing concrete legal, social and other actions to combat and prevent sexual violence on, and off-campus.
Ultimately, the discussion will consider the potential avenues wherein university administrations may engage with student unions, social service agencies, the criminal justice system and the civil rights system in order to protect survivors through creating a respectful and harassment-free learning environment.
The panel will be moderated by Dr. Myrna Lashley, an internationally recognized clinical, teaching and, research authority in cultural psychology, who has also worked as a consultant to First Nations and the Jewish communities. Currently, she is the Chair of the Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security, a structure operating under Public Safety Canada, as well as Vice-Chair of the École Nationale de Police du Québec.
• Gabrielle Bouchard, the peer support and trans advocacy coordinator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia. Co-recipient of the Quebec LGBT Council's Honoris award, she coordinated part of the community efforts to bring legislative changes through a court case to bring full legal equality to trans and intersexed people in Quebec. Ms. Bouchard also provides training and workshops to social actors, front-line workers, and post-secondary institutions;
• Safina Adatia, a volunteer with the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students' Society (SACOMSS) since 2011, who played an active role in the 2012 review of that university's Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination policy. Safina has also been a part of the Sexual Assault Policy Proposal working group since its inception in 2013;
• Jean Murray, a member of the McGill University's Sexual Assault Policy Proposal working group since 2014. She previously volunteered with the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students' Society for four years in a variety of capacities such as facilitating support groups for survivors of sexual assault, running Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and acting as External Coordinator, and
• Hanadi Saad, founding President of Justice Femme, a support group for Muslim women in Montreal who are victims of violence and discrimination based on religion, ethnicity and gender.
Leading up this event, CRARR has been working with different units of the CSU to develop a comprehensive action plan and response to survivors of sexual violence on campus who need assistance. Moreover, CRARR will be working alongside ASFA to establish a task force to address racism and sexism on campus, a resultant formation that has been part of the settlement of its civil rights complaint. Two McGill Interns, Brandy deGaia and Soyoung Lee have coordinated CRARR's work on this file.