Women’s Centre project to compile stories of sexual assault on campus

Sexual assault on university campuses is rarely spoken about to the extent that the Women’s Centre working group is about to address through their publication Saturday Night: Untold Stories of Sexual Assault at Laurier.

The project, which began at Duke University, is a compilation of submitted stories regarding each individual’s experience with sexual assault. It is meant as both a forum for dialogue as well as an educational work.

The idea to recreate the book at Laurier began four years ago after an outcry which followed The Cord’s publishing of “The gentlemen’s guide to getting laid at WLU” in September of 2005.

The article detailed the ways in which one Laurier student persuaded women to have sex with him.

Sonal Pala, a former member of the WLU Women’s Centre, said the outcry occurred while she was in third year at Laurier, and prompted those involved at the Women’s Centre to begin discussing the normalization of sexual assault.

“People were really upset about the way this was being portrayed and the kind of impact this might have on people’s definitions of sexual assault within the Laurier campus,” said Pala.

The increased incidence of sexual assault among those aged 16-24, according to Women’s Centre member Kate Klein, is what makes the issue such an important one among the Laurier community.

“I don’t know why people think that the school is somehow exempt from that statistic,” said Klein.

Pala agreed with Klein, as she believes that on university campuses, sexual assault is “silenced and externalized.”

Whether this lack of rhetoric is a result of the university’s attempt to stifle any controversy on its campus or that there is a stigma attached to speaking about sexual assault, Saturday Night will surely address any issue at its core.

With submissions by Laurier students, the hope is that the publication will resonate on a realistic level with students.

“The piece on page three could be the person sitting next to me in class, it could be my roommate, it could be my TA,” said Klein. “These stories are very specific but they’re also universal.”

The Women’s Centre – which holds several events throughout the year addressing issues relating to women, such as the Vagina Monologues and the March 25 feminist speaker Jessica Valenti – will be collecting anonymous submissions for the book until April 25.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to saturdaynightwlu@gmail.com.

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