The 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, an independent organization at Concordia University, is hoping to bring workshops to Concordia’s residences later this year to facilitate discussion on sexual assault, gender, and sexuality.
The workshops will be modeled after McGill’s Rez Project, a series of two- to three-hour long mandatory workshops for all first-year students in residence.
Julie Michaud, the Administrative Coordinator at the 2110 Centre, is leading the effort at Concordia.
“It’s part of a broader campaign that includes calling on the University to create a sexual assault centre and revise its policy on sexual assault…making the University a safer place for everybody,” Michaud said.
She emphasized the general lack of awareness surrounding sexual assault. “There is less information in popular culture about consent and what it looks like and what it doesn’t look like and why it’s important to get a person’s consent,” Michaud explained.
The workshops are still in their planning phase, and the 2110 Centre is currently in talks with Concordia’s Residence Life.
The 2110 Centre has obtained resources from Rez Project for workshop content, and Michaud participated in training for McGill Rez Project facilitators this past summer.
Unlike Rez Project, however, the workshops at Concordia will not be mandatory for all students in residence. Instead, Residence Assistants will be able to decide individually whether to allow students under their charge to receive the workshops.
Concordia Director of Residence Life D’Arcy Ryan told The Daily, “I don’t like to make things mandatory for students, because once you make things mandatory for students, there’s going to be backlash.”
Michaud says the situation is “not ideal” but that she remains optimistic. “We would hope that in the future it would be a mandatory program as it is at McGill,” she said.
At McGill, members of the Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) collaborated with other student organizations to pilot Rez Project in Gardner Hall in 2004. The workshops expanded to the rest of the University’s residences and became mandatory in 2006.
McGill’s Residence Life Advisor Adam Harris Levine has been involved with Rez Project for several years.
“It makes a very big statement when a department as big as Residences says that this is something we stand behind so much that we are going to require it from the residences. It is one of the frameworks we use for creating a safer space in residences,” said Levine.
He added, “I can see why institutions would be anxious about supporting something like this, because people can get upset when you talk about these topics [that] are often silenced…but if we shy away from talking about this they’ll remain silenced. And I think that would be a disaster.”