A mandatory class in equity or women’s studies may create more discussion surrounding issues of sexual assault and violence, but is unlikely to provide a realistic solution to the problems that York University faces.
In the wake of a string of sexual assaults on the campus, the York Federation of Students has suggested that all students take a class at some point in their degree to learn about the negative repercussions of these attitudes.
There most definitely needs to be a larger discussion about sexual assault and violence on this campus and on any university campus — this is a problem that should take priority in any given situation.
York University has been accused of maintaining a ‘culture of silence’ in past years about issues of sexual assault. The media and former students have accused them of sweeping these issues under the rug in order to improve their public image.
With four reported sexual assaults at the school last year and numerous others over the summer, York has been under increased scrutiny from the public and the media to better deal with these issues and speak openly about how to find solutions.
In order to actually deal with the problems of sexual violence on the York campus specifically, university administrators should invest in even more security to protect their students, not spend money on a course that might bring little benefit to remedying the actual situation at hand.
While they’ve already done this to some extent, they need to continue ensuring that these measures are being put in place and that they’re working.
The course might
effectively reduce the stigma surrounding sexual violence, creating a safe space for students to talk about their experiences.
However, a course of this nature might also unintentionally upset students who aren’t inherently interested in the subject matter and who don’t want to pay tuition for such
The same lessons could be taught through other programs and initiatives that would be less expensive for students, such as workshops and talks on campus.
However, some of the assaults at York haven’t even been directly carried out by students — many are from the outside community.
This points to a more widespread problem — one that requires action from community leaders.
How can we educate people both inside and outside of university campuses that sexual assault isn’t okay?
The discussion needs to begin early, before students enter university lecture halls.
The idea that sexual assault is okay begins when children start forming their views on the world. The only way to stop the assaults in the community at large is to deal with this problematic mindset early on.
A university lecture might spark some discussion surrounding the issue at best. Ultimately, the conversation needs to happen both inside and outside of the school and it needs to target those who are least likely to understand the issues involved.
— Journal Editorial Board
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