The St. Thomas University Students’ Union plans to start a poster campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus. This follows a tweet from UNB Security last week which said “Alcohol overconsumption = sexual assaults.”
The motion to begin the campaign was brought forward by Luke Robertson, who came to council with a prepared statement and examples of posters from the “Don’t be that guy” campaign run in Edmonton.
“It’s a perfect example of blatant victim-blaming. I think it was misinterpreted as I do know some UNB Security staff and they may have been trying to imply that alcohol is the number one date rape drug. Regardless, I think it’s important for the issue to come up,” Robertson said.
He also pointed out Fredericton is ranked third in the country for most dangerous place to live in terms of sexual assault.
“Ninety-eight per cent of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men in our age group. Some people have voiced concern about this campaign targeting men, but I think we should be the focus. I’m ashamed to admit that we as men are the large majority of the problem,” Robertson said.
The posters passed around the council table included headlines like “it’s not sex when she’s passed out” and “it’s not sex when she doesn’t want it.”
Some members of council were critical of the focus on men as perpetrators of sexual assault.
James Rouse felt the campaign should be targeting all people.
“This poster ‘it’s not sex when she’s wasted,’ can drunk people never have sex?” Rouse asked.
Fin Mackay-Boyce was initially offended by the posters. He wondered why he was being targeted.
“Then I realized that the worst that happens to me is I get offended. That doesn’t hurt me. This campaign has been linked with a 10 per cent reduction in sexual assault and even if one guy stops and thinks about it… I’d take a thousand offended guys over one sexual assault,” Mackay-Boyce said.
Emily Sheen and Rodrigo Flores also raised concerns about the gender specificity of the campaign. They felt it was important to remember that sexual assault is not only a women’s issue. Men can also become victims.
Robertson pointed out one of posters included “it’s not sex when he changes his mind.”
The discussion closed with a decision to donate $150 from the charitable assistance line to the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre and to hammer out further details of an anti-sexual assault campaign at a later date.