Sexual violence concerns persist as efforts to keep Western Students safe continue
It has been over a month since social media posts claimed about 30 women were drugged and sexually assaulted during orientation week at Western University in London, Ont.
The allegations and subsequent concerns that were raised sparked promises for action against sexual and gender-based violence but safety remains a constant concern for many on campus.
"It's so sad to say that I can reflect on a moment in the last 48 hours of a situation that happened like that," says Tyra Cadogan, a second year Social Justice and Peace Studies student who attends both Western and King’s University College. "Gathering with some friends from university there was already a situation where multiple women felt unsafe."
A rally Tuesday outside Western’s University Community Centre launched three days of events organized by the Western University Students' Council.
"Enough is enough and it is time for change,” Students’ Council president Zamir Fakirani told the gathering.
Fakirani says he is encouraged by news that university administration has welcomed 21 recommendations from the students' council but says changes need to be made quickly, including expanding mandatory training beyond students entering residences.
"There should be no member of our campus community who doesn't have gender-based violence prevention and response training."
The “O” week allegations prompted a walkout and march on Sept. 17 that attracted thousands. Tuesday’s gathering was small but those on hand say it's important to continue the dialogue.
Bronwyn Lacey is a third-year student at Brescia University College majoring in Psychology with a minor in Gender Studies. She says even those passing by the event were receiving an important message, "People know there's supports and stuff like that. That's very powerful in itself.”
AnnaLise Trudell is with Anova, an agency working to end gender-based violence and give support to victims.
"We're never going to get there by preaching to the converted, preaching to those who already buy into the messages.” Trudell said. “Expanding the dialogue isn't always easy but it's imperative. We need to find a way into the cultures and subgroups of folks who are perpetrating these acts."
London police say they interviewed approximately 600 students with regards to the “O” week social media posts but could not substantiate those reports. They say the investigation is continuing.