Being a student can be exhausting. You have so many things to balance; taking 4-5 classes while working a part time job or perhaps taking care of a family member while trying to meet new people and have a social life. You may be new to Canada and learning about Canadian culture and history for the first time, and English may not be your first language. For many students it can be exciting, yet overwhelming trying to find a sense of community and belonging.
At UBC we aspire to create a caring and safer campus community where everyone can thrive and where everyone feels like they belong and are supported. Part of your responsibility as a community member is to be aware of what’s happening on campus, which is a reflection of the broader society. How many times have you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and ignored posts by your friends that you don’t want to engage with because you think it doesn’t matter to you? Distancing yourself from an issue can be really easy, especially when you are overwhelmed and tired. At UBC, we believe sexual assault is everyone’s issue and that we all have a part to play in ending violence on campus.
Many people don’t know how to engage in these conversations or how to intervene if they witness potential violence, or even why it should matter to them. Other people may also feel like someone else will step in, or that you could be putting yourself at risk by speaking out. You may also not want to intervene if the person is your friend. Some people may not engage because they have experienced sexual assault themselves, and are setting boundaries to promote their own healing.
Looking at the statistics of how many people experience sexual assault, the reality is that you will know someone who has experienced violence. Part of being a part of a community is looking out for each other – which means being an active bystander and intervening in situations where there is a potential for violence, or if violence is occurring. It can be scary, and it’s important to make sure that you are safe, knowing that safety looks different for everyone. By intervening you can make a real impact on someone’s life whether it’s engaging in a conversation with someone who is making a rape joke about why that’s not ok, to making sure a friend gets home safe from a party.
We all have a part to play in fostering safer and more respectful communities. Learn more about what you can do to address this issue on campus and join the conversation here.