Walkout saw thousands gathered at Summerhill

‘Patriarchy has to go’

Attendees wore purple and teal to stand against sexual violence.

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

“Hey hey, ho ho, patriarchy has got to go!”

On Sept. 27, thousands gathered in front of Summerhill for an AMS-organized Walkout against sexual violence.

“I would like to thank you all so much for coming out today. It is raining, and we did not know if we would get many people, but this is incredible,” Samara Lijiam, Commissioner of Social Issues, said to the crowd.

Attendees at the Walkout wore purple or teal to stand in solidarity with Western University students after alleged sexual violence during Western’s orientation week.

“We’re here for many reasons today. Firstly, to show our support for our peers at Western,” Lijiam said.

“We’re also here because this is a Queen’s issue as well. Members of the community needed support and action and we’re here to stand with survivors of sexual assault in our own community, and lastly, we’re here to demand action.”

Lijiam kicked off the event by reading letters to survivors that were collected in the days leading up to the Walkout.

“You are strong, brave, and beautiful. I’m sorry that this is how we met. Not on the streets or the bus, or in line for a concert, but through the stories of your pain,” she read.

“I’m truly sorry this happened to you. It takes incredible resilience, bravery, and courage to share your story. I stand with you, and I believe you, and I’m sending you unending kindness and love on your journey.”

Rebecca Laskin, ArtSci ’23, was the first speaker at the event.

“When I was writing my speech, I looked to my two queer aunties for guidance,” she said. “What struck me the most about our conversation was that they discussed speeches they had done in a rally over 40 years ago that covered the same issues.”

“40 years later, they continue to fight the patriarchy, they continue to fight against sexual violence, and now their own niece is taking on this battle.”

In her speech, Laskin questioned the university’s sexual violence policies by asking the crowd if they were aware of workshops and initiatives such as “How to build a consent culture” and “Bystander Intervention Training” offered by Queen’s. 

READ MORE: SVPR introduces ‘It Takes All of Us’

“Until doing my own research, I’d never even known about these programs,” Laskin said.

Laskin added if the programs aren’t accessible enough for the public to be aware of them, they aren’t likely to be very effective.

“I am demanding a call to action. I call on Queen’s University to advertise their workshops more effectively, I call on Queen’s University to pay for free and accessible self-defense classes for sexual violence.”

“Loudest of all, I call on all male-identified students to be an ally for us to stand up against the locker room talk, seek consent, look out for those at risk of sexual violence.”

The Journal had the opportunity to talk to some attendants at the event.

“I’m here today because I am a female student at a university similar to Western. These incidents aren’t exclusive to Western. It happens everywhere. It happens at Queen’s. It happens all the time,” Naomi Heeley Greene, ArtSci ’23 and attendee at the walkout, said in an interview with The Journal.

“A lot of them go unnoticed because students don’t get the support they need or there aren’t walkouts like this to call attention to it. We’re sick of it.”

At the event, AMS President Zaid Kasim said in an interview with The Journal that he was “extremely happy” with the turnout.

“The turnout itself shows that this is something that really matters to the students, rain or shine,” Kasim said.

“We are super thankful for our partners for organizing this—the SGPS [Society of Graduate and Professional Students], the Bystander Intervention program, PSAC 901 [Public Service Alliance of Canada Local 901], and SAC [Sexual Assault Centre] Kingston.”

“At the end of the day, what happened at Western is not an isolated event. I think everyone needs to understand that this is an issue at Queen’s.”

Later in the evening, Lijiam wrote in an email to The Journal that the AMS is demanding mandated bystander intervention training to address the gaps in knowledge on consent and rape culture.

“We want to advocate for solutions that emphasize community-based prevention—like bystander intervention—not just increased security or police presence that we know does not always make spaces safer,” she wrote.

“We also need to address binge drinking, party culture, and drinking culture in a way that does not push students to go to the hub or house parties, which is harmful and unfortunately what happens.”

Lijiam added the AMS is hoping to re-implement “Ask for Angela,” a campaign held at Queen’s Pub in the past, to reduce the prevalence of sexual harassment at bars.

“We will continue to advocate for intersectional, inclusive, accessible, and trauma-informed solutions while listening to the voices of survivors.”

—With files from Asbah Ahmad and Rida Chaudhry

Tags

rally, Sexual Assault, Social Issues Commission, Walkout

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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