Event at Georgian College tackles sexual violence
PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES Disa Kauk, of Think Link, created graphic to display the information shared during Wednesday's United Front Against Sexual Violence event at Georgian College in Orillia.
What does a rapist look like?
That was one of the questions students at Georgian College were asked Wednesday as part of United Front Against Sexual Violence, the inaugural United Front seminar held at the college’s Orillia campus.
Not all of the 90 students in attendance were able to ace the multiple-choice test given at the start of the event.
“We go through that discussion, but some of them still have that illusion that it’s somebody in an alleyway, it’s somebody that we don’t know, that it’s a stranger,” said Haily MacDonald, of Huronia Transition Homes. “We go through the stat that 90% of the time, it’s not a stranger; we know the person.”
MacDonald was facilitating the discussion in the morning session of United Front. Students from the human services and community safety programs at Georgian participated alongside police, social services and community organizations during the daylong event, which also included a panel discussion and networking opportunities in the afternoon.
Part of the morning’s activities focused on dispelling myths about rape.
“If you’re drunk, you’re partly responsible for being sexually assaulted, that what you wear bears an influence on that,” MacDonald used as an example of a rape myth. “We really broke it down together as a group and discussed the realities around sexual violence and rape culture and how it’s present in our everyday lives, even here in Orillia.”
The inaugural United Front event was put on by Georgian College, Huronia Transition Homes and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. Admission to the seminar was by donation of toiletries to Huronia Transition Homes.
May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month in Canada.
The goal of the series is to foster greater collaboration between the human service and community safety sectors at the school. The plan is to hold a different seminar each semester.
“We worked with Huronia Transition Homes to do the sexual violence topic, but we’re also planning for October to work with the Child Advocacy Centre,” said Jill Dunlop, of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Georgian. “The topic would be child abuse, which fits nicely with October being Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Both Dunlop and MacDonald were pleased with the engagement from the participants through the morning session and were looking forward to the afternoon panel, which would feature questions from students answered by community leaders in the fight against sexual violence.
“... It has gone well,” MacDonald said. “The students are engaged. They wanted to continue the conversation. I had to stop them.”