Students’ Union holds walk-out in solidarity with those impacted by gendered and sexual violence
The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union joined other students’ associations across Ontario for a walk-out to demonstrate support for survivors and individuals affected by gendered and sexual violence on Thursday, Sept. 23.
The walk-out was held in the Quad on the Waterloo campus where over 100 Laurier students and staff turned out wearing blue and holding signs of support.
“We believe that survivors on all campuses across Ontario should be supported and know we believe them,” Pegah Jamalof, Laurier students’ union president said in an email statement.
Earlier this month, there were thousands of students at Western University protesting sexual violence following the allegations of 30 drug-related sexual assaults at a residence on campus during reading week.
There were also hundreds of students who marched through the University of Guelph on Thursday to raise awareness about gendered and sexual violence.
“The idea of a walk-out came to us this past Tuesday afternoon from our partners in Guelph,” Jamalof said.
The walk-out at Laurier started with a land acknowledgement and a chant of “hey, ho! sexual violence has got to go, whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!”
This demonstration is viewed as a means to challenge the status quo and the culture of rape, victim-blaming and shaming prevalent across all Ontario campuses.Pegah Jamalof, Laurier students’ union president
There were speakers and sexual violence survivors who spoke about the negative impacts of rape culture and the lack of resources available for survivors.
A support team was present for attendees to speak with and the sexual violence support team held a safe space during and after the event.
Laurier’s gendered and sexual violence prevention and supports offer support, advocacy, and trauma-informed resources to 150 survivors a year on campus.
Sarah Scanlon, the manager of the sexual violence response, emphasized that consent is the bare minimum and spoke about the importance of healing for survivors and accountability for individuals who commit sexual violence acts.
They also touched on the ties between sexual violence and colonization in Canada.
“This demonstration is viewed as a means to challenge the status quo and the culture of rape, victim-blaming and shaming prevalent across all Ontario campuses,” Jamalof said.
“Students should not fear sexual or gender-based violence or harassment when coming to our schools. I am proud of my team and the support services from Laurier that were able to come together in a short period to make such an event possible.”