Consent week starts at Queen’s

Sexual violence policy coming up on triennial review

“Let’s get consensual” stickers to be distributed by the AMS.
Supplied by Niki Boytchuk-Hale

This article discusses sexual violence and may be triggering for some readers. The Journal uses “survivor” to refer to those who have experienced sexual assault. We acknowledge this term is not universal. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424.

Queen’s, in-line with post-secondary institutions across Canada, has established a national consent week during the third week of September, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 23.

At Queen’s, consent week is being spearheaded by the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Services (SVPRS) in conjunction with departments across the University. This includes student governments on campus who are planning their own initiatives. 

On Sept. 21, between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., SVPRS and Residence Life have scheduled a panel discussion—no pre-registration necessary—in Ban Righ Hall with the aim of helping individuals navigate identity, intimacy, and sex in post-secondary institutions. 

Dr. Caroline Pukall from Queen’s department of psychology will sit on the panel. She focuses on gender and sex minorities to increase representation of historically marginalized groups in sexual health research. 

Inclusion and Anti-Racism Advisor Jermaine Marshall from the Human Rights and Equity Office will be on the panel to provide his experiences on the work he led at Brock University, which supported men in navigating 21st century masculinity and efforts contributing to consent culture on campus. 

Georgia Kersche, external educator at Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC), will be present on the panel and comes with experience on communicating ways to reduce financial and communications barriers to safer sex. 

Rebecca Rappenport, SVPR community outreach and student support worker, will moderate the panel. 

On Sept. 20 along with the Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK), Queen’s is running a poster campaign to show support for survivors. This includes posting on social media using the hashtag #WeBelieveYouYGK. 

In an email to AMS staff sent on Sept. 19, Tina Hu, vice-president (operations), provided context to consent awareness week by including an expert from a Global News article discussing MPP Kristyn Wong-Tam’s recent legislative efforts to create a consent awareness week across the province.

In her email, Hu said the issue of sexual violence is sizeable, and requires an all hands-on-deck approach to inform peer groups of what safe and consensual behaviour looks like. 

She further added the importance of having conversations around safe intervention and the systems in place at institutions to protect and “guide” students. 

“I understand from ETC’s conversations with the University [Department of Student Affairs office in particular] that Queen’s is reviewing the Sexual Violence policy because it is up for its triannual [sic] review next year,” Hu said in the email to AMS staff. 

Hu added recommendations for the complaint process will be given. 

“From conversations with Barb Lotan [SVPR coordinator], I understand that this process is not very survivor-centric and has room for improvements; it is not utilized very much.”

The AMS is working to promote the Kingston Interval House during consent week.

The AMS will be giving away stickers that say “Let’s get consensual” at the AMS offices in LaSalle, and on the first and second floors of the Queen’s Centre. 

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