Alongside the typical promises of a high energy time to help first years adjust to student life at Laurier Brantford, this year campus administration is setting forth initiatives to ensure that students are aware of the university’s growing commitment to sexual assault awareness.
“We want to let everyone know that we’re making conversations about consent and sexual assault a priority during Orientation Week,” said Laurier Student’s Union in a Facebook post on September 2.
One way that Laurier is hoping to educate incoming students about sexual assault is through the introduction of its new “Hawk Pact” workshop, which will take place at Laurier Brantford on Wednesday morning of Orientation Week programing.
Catherine Mulvihill Director of Student Experience at the Waterloo campus, explained that Hawk Pact aims to cover topics of mental health, substance abuse and consent.
“These are all relevant subjects that we need to review,” said Mulvihill.
Mulvihill addressed the fact that there are complexities to the nature of conversations about consent, and explained that Hawk Pact will be a first step.
“It’s a start to a really important conversation… It’s a broad introduction… we’re not trying to solve anything in that session but we want students to feel comfortable to start talking,” said Mulvihill.
“When we talk about substances and we talk about alcohol we do acknowledge when somebody is intoxicated… they can’t give consent,” said Mulvihill.
Hawk Pact will be introduced to Laurier Brantford’s first years through a series of presentations by campus leaders like, Adam Lawrence, Dean of Students, Laura Mae Lindo, Director of The Diversity and Equity Office and Melissa DiLeo, from The Centre of Student Life and Engagement.
Orientation Week’s Wednesday night programing will also consist of the annual Mike Domitrz “Can I Kiss You” presentation, which has run on campus for the last five years. The presentation offers students a tangible explanation of consent and works to reiterate its importance.
Laurier’s Gender Violence Task Force is working with an organization made up of Laurier students and alum, called Advocates for a Student Culture of Consent (ASCC) to create Laurier’s first sexual assault policy and protocol.
Karly Rath, co-founder of ASCC, explained that by working to create a sexual assault policy Laurier is making a commitment to help survivors of sexual assault, “continue their education and life in the best way possible.”
According to Rath, the policy will focus on supporting survivors of sexual violence and work to ensure that their needs are met and respected by Laurier.
ASCC will be presenting the policy to Laurier’s Senate on November 20, and to the Board of Governors on November 26.
Rath explained that Laurier’s Gender Violence Task Force is also currently working with advocacy groups within the student community to create a consent campaign called, “Consent is Golden: Do you get it?” The Laurier wide campaign will begin this year and aims to focus on establishing the importance of consent and will work to explain what consent is.