The Sexual Assault Centre of McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) offers services to survivors of sexual assault, their friends, family, partners, and allies. We’re writing this to clarify our centre’s beliefs, in response to recent events. One such article, “Pro-life group seeks SSMU club status,” appeared in the October 6 issue of The Daily.
The article discussed Choose Life, a pro-life group which is trying to gain SSMU club status. SSMU VP Clubs & Services Samantha Cook was quoted as saying that SACOMSS would be a source of backlash as a group with a “more vested interest in women’s rights and reproductive rights.” Although SACOMSS identifies as an anti-oppressive and pro-feminist organization, we do not identify as either pro-life or pro-choice. Anyone is welcome to use our services regardless of their opinions on abortion.
SACOMSS offers non-judgemental support through support groups, a helpline, a drop-in centre, and an accompaniment branch. We also offer education through community outreach. Our services are all pro-survivor, meaning that we always believe the survivor and that sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault. Our space and volunteer opportunities are open to people of all genders, backgrounds, and beliefs.
As a non-judgemental organization, we will not judge anyone based on their beliefs or any other criteria. We are here to support survivors of sexual assault, and unless Choose Life was to interfere with such support, we would have no reason to oppose their group gaining club status. We are aware that the beliefs of Choose Life’s parent organization, National Campus Life Network, conflict with our pro-survivor mandate. Their literature states that they believe that abortion in the case of sexual assault is merely a violent act in response to the violent act of sexual assault1. However, we do not know the extent of Choose Life’s involvement with this group.
We also wanted to clarify that only the External Coordinators of SACOMSS can accurately speak on behalf of the centre’s mandates and beliefs. This means that no speaker, ally, or anyone else, even if supported by or endorsed by SACOMSS, can represent us as a centre.
Corey Gulkin and Becky Harris are SACOMSS External Coordinators. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and more info can be found at sacomss.org.