Students should focus on the bigger picture

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It’s time for Queen’s to look past Alexander Prescott’s individual actions and focus on the bigger picture.

On Feb. 25, Prescott, who is an ASUS rep to the AMS, made a comment on Facebook regarding his views on rape. Specifically, his comments, where he claimed that some of the onus should be placed on the victim, have sparked outrage among students.

Drawing an analogy between a rapist and a thief, he claimed that going out at night is similar to wearing expensive jewelry in a dangerous part of town. In each situation, the victim is putting themselves at greater risk of harm, Prescott outlined.

Some argue that the reaction to Prescott’s comment was blown out of proportion, claiming that it was simply mirroring a common frame of mind on the issue. But one aspect of the statement was impossible to misconstrue.

The problematic part was Prescott’s claim that the onus is on the victim for putting themselves in danger.

It’s disappointing that Prescott hasn’t publicly apologized for his statement and shown a willingness to understand the issues better. His lack of remorse isn’t constructive in moving the discussion past his statements and to the actual issues surrounding rape culture.

Although Prescott made the comment on Facebook through his private account, and didn’t comment in an official capacity, he’s nonetheless a public figure. While they are allowed to express their own opinions on social media about certain topics, it’s naïve to think that their constituents and followers aren’t seeing and critiquing them.

Especially when expressing opinions on topics as sensitive as sexual assault, Prescott should’ve been weary of his position in student government before speaking out.

It’s no surprise that ASUS Assembly has chosen to censure Prescott, actively removing their association to Prescott’s comments.

An impeachment would’ve been a far stronger and more aggressive move against what was still a personal opinion. A censure was enough of a gesture. Whether the three ASUS Assembly members’ decision to resign was warranted is more questionable.

There are now three missing representatives on ASUS assembly to represent constituents, which is worrisome. However, especially given Prescott’s lack of apology and remorse for his statement, it’s understandable why they may feel uncomfortable working with him.

While Prescott’s censure was warranted, what is problematic is the uproar and verbal attacks directed at Prescott in light of his comments by individuals who attended the ASUS special assembly.

Prescott is a divisive figure on Queen’s campus. He has often taken controversial, inflammatory and very public stances on issues important to students.

Many individuals disagree with him, but that doesn’t warrant the blatant disrespect and hatred directed at him. While he may have offended many students in making his comment, an eye for an eye isn’t the way to react.

Prescott as an individual didn’t deserve to be attacked, harassed or targeted as a result of his comments.

It was very brave of survivors of sexual assault to stand up at Assembly and tell their stories and it’s fair for individuals to voice disagreement with his statement.

But, Assembly by no means should have become a foum for the denigration of Prescott’s character. Some question whether ASUS Assembly was even an appropriate forum to discuss this.

There’s not much left to debate when it comes to Prescott himself — the special ASUS Assembly to impeach him is in the past and the debate surrounding him should end.

It’s time for Queen’s campus to move forward. Even if Prescott doesn’t reach out to make amends for his comments, he should stop being targeted and demonized by the student body.

Instead, there needs to be a discussion about the culture and discourse surrounding rape. It’s time to develop a larger, more positive and supportive community fighting against rape and sexual assault on Queen’s campus.

Student leaders should take further steps in organizing events and workshops to educate students. In particular, we need to talk about why victim-blaming is so harmful and engage those who disagree with this in fruitful discussion, not in confrontation and attacks.

Let’s take the bull’s-eye off Prescott’s back. It’s time to grow and move towards a more positive and enlightening conversation about the more important issues facing our community.

— Journal Editorial Board

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