Nearly 100 people gathered at Carleton University Tuesday afternoon for a panel and town hall meeting following the now infamous F— SAFE SPACE incident.
“We really need to start acknowledging this and fighting against it, and start to talk about what does it mean to have safer spaces on campus, and how do we work towards those?,” said Graduate Students’ Association president Christina Muehlberger.
Students and faculty hosted the discussion, spawned by a Sept. 7 photograph of two young men wearing sleeveless shirts reading F— SAFE SPACE on the front, and OR ME on the back.
It was worn by orientation week leaders and volunteers, including women, at an off-campus party.
Lawyer Leslie Robertson initially posted the photo on Twitter when she spotted the men.
“It seriously kind of hit us in the gut and it was really shocking,” said Robertson, who was on the list of speakers.
The message was akin to wearing a garment “that says f— anti-racism, or f— people of colour, or no homo,” she said.
Safe space at Carleton refers to creating an environment free of homophobia and heterosexism on campus and increasing the visibility of supportive people and positive spaces for its GLBTQ community.
Defenders say the shirts were addressing a policy forbidding frosh leaders to curse during orientation-related events.
Critics countered the garments were donned two days after 26-year-old student Mohamed Daoud of Ottawa was charged in connection with the sexual assault of three female staffers on campus.
He has since been banned from Carleton.
Orientation week leaders have apologized for the shirts.
Nonetheless, rape culture and oppression exists at Carleton and on campuses across the country, said Muehlberger.
Second-year neuroscience student Amber Ripley said she was a facilitator during orientation and was “a little caught off guard” when she saw the shirts.
“A lot of them got turned inside out really quickly,” said Ripley.
She was supportive of the discussion taking place.
`You’ve got to flesh it out and get to the reasons behind it to make sure it doesn’t happen again, so I think it’s a good thing,” said Ripley.
Rebekah Vice, in her second year of studying paleontology, deemed the decision to sport the shirt “a little questionable.”
Legal studies professor Dawn Moore said frosh week is the most dangerous stretch for women on campus.