Sexual assault awareness campaign debuts at Carleton

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/08/31/sexual-assault-awareness-campaign-debuts-at-carleton

Almost one year after a string of sexual assaults on campus, Carleton University has launched an awareness campaign.

Three public service announcements debuted online Thursday, featuring students, faculty, and staff.

“We want students to start having the conversation about consent,” said Graduate Students’ Association president Kelly Black, who’s featured in a video.

“And we want students to know services are available to them if they have been sexually assaulted, or they have a friend, or they know someone who has, so that they can get the support they need and that we can work to ending rape culture.”

Four sexual assaults were reported during the last school year — three in November and one in February — and an 18-year-old man was arrested in connection with two attacks.

Second-year sociology student Latisha Gabbidon, 18, remembers hearing about the incidents.

“It was really surprising to me. I didn’t think that that would really happen on campus and how often it was happening,” said Gabbidon.

She was at the student centre on Friday and noticed the new campaign.

“I think that it’s a good effort that they’re trying to help things but if it’s going to help out, I’m not sure,” she said.

The PSAs, aimed at 27,000 full-time and part-time students, will be screened during orientation week then featured on Carleton websites and social media, including its YouTube channel.

“I think that one of the biggest issues in opening that discussion about sexual assault is that no one wants to talk about it and everyone wants to pretend it doesn’t happen,” said Sarah McCue from the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre.

Video opens the discussion “by getting your peers to talk to you and say this is real, this is the definition, and here’s why you shouldn’t do it. So it’s opening that conversation and making it really accessible at a very basic level for folks.”

Administration will run the support centre – expected to open this school year – in Robertson Hall, said director of equity services Linda Capperauld.

“The university has hired architects and engineers…renovations have not yet started,” said Capperauld.

The school is working on two other projects: Consent is Not a Grey Area, in partnership with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, and the provincial Draw the Line campaign.

For more information, visit octevaw-cocvff.ca or draw-the-line.ca

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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