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Rape culture, misogyny and sexism on campus

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa (APUO) expresses its support for the decision of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) President, Anne-Marie Roy, to break the silence about the rape culture on our campus. As Ms. Roy notes in her public statement, “The fact that the five men could so casually discuss and joke about me and the position students have elected me to hold in such sexually violent ways points to how normalized rape culture, misogyny and sexism are on our campus and in our society. This kind of behaviour has clear impacts on women; it creates an environment that is intimidating, threatening and toxic. Women on this campus and in our society deserve better.”

The APUO fully agrees with this statement and believes that the vast majority of the University of Ottawa students, support staff and faculty, both female and male, find gender based discrimination, intimidation and sexual harassment to be completely reprehensible and at odds with the most basic values of our community.

While the immediate problem may have been addressed by the decision of the five men to abandon legal retaliation against Ms. Roy, to offer their apology to her, and to resign from their elected positions, the APUO applauds the efforts of Ms. Roy to use this situation as a broader learning opportunity for the entire campus to challenger us to confront everyday misogyny.

In a related incident, although we have not been apprised of any details beyond those reported by the media, the APUO also wants to express its support for the University administration’s decision to suspend the activities of the men’s hockey team, while there is an investigation into the allegation of sexual assault.

While we believe this is an issue so serious that the President of the University, Allan Rock, should directly and publicly address it himself rather than sending the Director of Corporate Communications to speak in his name and place, we support the University administration for taking clear and decisive action. We hope that the University administration takes all the necessary steps to address this situation in the strongest possible way as the details emerge, and encourage the administration to look proactively into the root causes of the problem in order to avoid a repetition of similar events.

We also applaud the actions of professors on this campus who have proactively responded to these incidents by discussing these issues with their students and with the media.

The APUO looks forward to working with the administration and student associations in helping to create a campus that promotes respect for the dignity of every individual and a University community that is free from sexual harassment and discrimination.

The APUO Executive Committee