Nous sommes un groupe d’étudiantes et d’étudiants de l’Université Sainte-Anne—actuels, anciens et diplômés—qui ont été victimes de la culture du viol à l’université et/ou qui ont des gens ou des ami-e-s victimes de cette culture du viol. Nous sommes fatiguées, excédées et outrées par les nombreuses expériences de harcèlement, d’agression sexuelle et de viol à l’Université Sainte-Anne, ou par les expériences de harcèlement, d’agression sexuelle et de viol que nous avons nous-mêmes vécues... Et surtout, nous sommes scandalisées de constater que l’université ne prend pas ces histoires, ces expériences et ces cas au sérieux et ne traite pas les victimes avec compassion, attention et sollicitude. Les étudiants de Sainte-Anne ont, pendant des années, déposé des plaintes et soulevé des questions sur le harcèlement sexuel et les agressions sexuelles sur le campus, sans grand résultat. C’est pourquoi, aujourd’hui, nous exposons publiquement les récits et les expériences de quelques-unes des victimes de la culture du viol à l’université. Nous vous demandons votre soutien et votre aide pour demander à l’administration de l’Université et à son Conseil des gouverneurs de procéder à des réformes en profondeur afin de mettre un terme une fois pour toute à la culture du viol à Sainte-Anne.
We are a group of Université Sainte-Anne students—present, former, and graduates—who have been victimized by the rape culture at the university and/or who have friends and known others victimized by its rape culture. We have become so tired of, fed up with, and outraged by the many experiences of harassment, sexual assault, and rape at Université Sainte-Anne, and/or experiencing such harassment, sexual assault, and rape ourselves . . . only for the university to so often not take such experiences and cases seriously, and to not treat victims with compassion, care, and concern. Students at Sainte-Anne have, for years, raised complaints and questions about sexual harassment and sexual assault to little avail. So, now, we are publicly voicing the accounts and experiences of just some of the victims of rape culture at the university. We are asking for your support and your help in petitioning the university administration and its Board of Governors to make serious reforms and to begin curbing the rape culture at Sainte-Anne.
CAMPAIGN REPORT/UPDATE (NOVEMBER 28, 2023)
There are now, on this website, 40 vignettes and 24 submitted stories related to and relating sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape at our microuniversity, a place with fewer students than a high school. Serious change can and must be made.
The Vice-Rector (Administration) continues to take down, from bulletin boards on campus, flyers in support of our campaign; she has been witnessed doing so by visitors, students, and a professor. The definition of rape culture on one professor’s office door has been repeatedly removed.
It was recently announced that the Rector will be stepping down in June, two years before his mandate is due to end.
On Nov. 1, the faculty union voted to recognize that there is a rape culture on campus.
SA Change Now continues to request that the university administration acknowledge the glaring problem of the rape culture on campus. Our campaign calls on the Rector to admit and apologize for the rape culture and to promise to effect our five recommended reforms. The petition in support of these reforms has more than 800 signatures and will be presented to the Rector soon. What matters is students’ safety, security, and well-being . . . and acknowledging the strength that survivors have shown in telling their stories.
CAMPAIGN REPORT/UPDATE (SEPTEMBER 27, 2023)
Since September 1, when Faut que SA change maintenant / SA Change Now, our anti-rape culture campaign (there are nine of us: current students, former students, and recent graduates) launched, we have posted a vignette daily on this website and our Instagram; the website includes many submitted stories. (One vignette disclosed that, in 2018-19, there was a serial rapist on campus, working as a student security officer, who had at least 17 victims; three submitted stories on the website concern this perpetrator.) Media outlets, from Radio Canada to the Canadian Press, have made our campaign national news. On September 7, the local Meteghan detachment of the RCMP appealed to survivors and witnesses of assaults and rapes at Université Sainte-Anne to come forward with information; an RCMP spokesman said of SA Change Now: “This is the first instance (in the past three years) that I’ve seen where an online campaign led directly to any kind of an investigation or file being opened . . . These movements give survivors the courage and the confidence to finally come forward to tell their story and to bring them to the police.” Indeed, since our website launched, there have been 23 submitted stories from other victims and survivors posted on it. So, along with the vignettes, there are, as of today (Sept. 27), 50 accounts so far related to or relating sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape at a microuniversity (with only around 350 full-time students).
Yet the administration at Université Sainte-Anne has not only refused to acknowledge or apologize for the university’s obvious rape culture, or to promise to institute our campaign’s five basic, recommended reforms (backed by more than 700 petition signatures and counting). It has tried to be stubbornly resistant. That resistance includes intimidatory efforts to attack the campaign or undermine it. Yet these efforts from the administration at an institution of higher-learning read, sadly, like juvenile-delinquent child’s play and infantile reprisals. Adults, paid to run a university, are not taking the safety, security, and well-being of the students in their care seriously; they are refusing to commit themselves to and initiate serious reforms to help make young people feel as if their awful experiences of a rape culture are finally being heard and heeded. They are, instead, spending and wasting their time lashing out at our student campaign, a campaign voicing the experiences of survivors and victims of harassment, rape, and sexual assault at Sainte-Anne, year after year, and so identifying a deeply systemic, localized rape culture that can and must be rooted out.
Our campaign flyers have been taken down from bulletin boards and thrown out, in some cases by the Rector himself. The president of the university came in on at least one Sunday afternoon to (a security guard told a professor he saw the man) tear down mere pieces of paper soliciting support for the campaign’s petition or asking that Sainte-Anne’s rape culture be changed, now. Recently, after flyers were replaced, they were removed within hours or days . . . so the main university buildings are being hall-monitored for, swept, and cleared of notices about our student campaign.
The Vice-Rector (Administration) repeatedly called one of our campaign members—a victim of sexual harassment and rape who suffers from PTSD—on her cellphone, then embroiled her in an hour-long conversation, including accusing her (the student) of vandalism in putting campaign flyers on her office door, which made her (the administrator) feel “harassed”, and so there would be serious consequences for the student.
After talking once to a co-worker about the campaign in a respectful, closed-door conversation, a professor received an email from the Dean, cc’ing the Vice-Rector (Teaching and Research), reminding the professor of the sector in which he works, telling him that he could see no reason why he would “constantly bother” the employee in question, and informing him that he was unsettling all the members of the Dean’s team on that floor. The professor’s printed-out dictionary definition of rape culture (n., a society or environment whose prevailing social attitudes have the effect of normalizing or trivializing sexual assault and abuse) was ripped down off his office door.
The faculty union leadership has capitulated to the administration by issuing a joint letter stating that, after the union executive met with the Rector, all is good and “the channels of communication between the professorial corps and the senior administration are now open, to ensure that there is a safe environment” . . . after union members voted 24 Yes, 5 No, and 5 Abstentions to this proposition: “[The faculty union] supports the effort of students in the prevention of sexual violence on campus”. Soon after the joint letter, the faculty union leadership requested that, to reflect its membership’s majority voice (?!), the professor who runs the union’s Facebook page no longer post on it SA Change Now campaign messages or information in support of our student movement . . . which is most certainly seeking “the prevention of sexual violence on campus”! The professor has, in disgust, relinquished his role as social-media manager for the union.
So, clearly, given these sad, pathetic examples of childishness, pettiness, peevishness, and intransigence—not to mention attacks on the basic right of students to organize and campaign for rudimentary improvements to and greater safety at the place where they work and live for at least six months each year—the rape culture at Sainte-Anne will not be changed or ended from within. (For instance, at the Sept. 25 meeting of the Provincial Sexual Violence Prevention Committee, Sainte-Anne’s representative, a mid-level administrator, was asked if the committee could help with the campaign’s demands, specifically the position of a Sexual-Assault Complaints Officer that SA Change Now has suggested. The committee suggested that Sainte-Anne could do up a proposal asking for funding from the committee; the administrator responded that the university is working on changes itself and will continue on that path.) Clearly, then, not unless there is enough pressure from the outside (media, public, government, external evaluators who are brought in), rather than the inside—precisely why our campaign, via a website and Instagram, was launched and is being run as it is, and trying to keep most members’ anonymity (to help avoid more of the reprisals and targeting already indulged in by the administration)—will Sainte-Anne’s rape culture start to be addressed, taken seriously, and changed. There obviously are not enough powers-that-be at Université Sainte-Anne who care enough about how many students have been harassed, assaulted, and raped at the institution.
Yet our accounts keep coming. A few days ago, a recent graduate and campaign member finished writing up her serialized vignette of (while she was a second-year student) being sexually harassed online by an older student doing a research project at Sainte-Anne. His obsessive behaviour had been reported to the university’s senior administration, but he was deemed by the then-Vice-Rector (Administration) to have changed, allowing the harasser to stay on campus, using it as a place where he could continue to pursue and hound young women. After the second-year student’s report, the harasser returned home, having suffered no consequences, and she felt, then, as though she had overreacted and wasted her time by reporting him, though he had harassed at least five other women she knew, including the then-counsellor at Sainte-Anne. It was only while digging through old emails from the Vice-Rector, and through screenshots of the messages between her and the harasser, piecing together information for her vignette, that our member truly came to understand how poorly the senior administration had handled her case.
The campaign has given many more of a voice, even as it has taken its toll. Another member has not been able to bring herself to write a vignette yet, but has given interviews and appeared in news stories about the rape culture at Sainte-Anne. While it was scary for her at first—knowing how small the campus is and how talk would swirl about who she was—talking to the media helped her feel listened to and made her more hopeful that her story could get others to realize the severity of the rape culture on campus. Still, she was thrown recently when the best friend of her rapist messaged the campaign to make out he was a victim and suggest she was lying. The group came to her aid and rallied around—supporting her on their groupchat, where she could vent—and then she, with another member drafting it, posted a comprehensive, crystal-clear response to the gaslighting message.
And campaign member Joanna Clark, a Sainte-Anne alumna who was a dorm advisor and member of the students’ association, has been doing her best to amplify the group’s campaign to the media in interviews. After having had her voice silenced during a conversation with a member of the administration back when she was a student at Sainte-Anne, she feels that the only way to have our voices heard is to, finally, speak out. Reports to the upper administration have been ignored and swept under the rug for far, far too long. Reaching out to the media, informing the general public, and popping the rural bubble surrounding the university are how, she says, we must confront the rape culture that has existed and persisted for at least a decade. The university administration must acknowledge the glaring problem of the rape culture on campus. And, in the end, whether they make the reforms to preserve the university’s reputation or to reassure students, what matters is students’ safety, security, and well-being . . . and acknowledging the strength that survivors have shown in bringing their experiences forward.
So, we, Faut que SA change maintenant / SA Change Now, are not going away. But the rape culture at our microuniversity—smaller than most high schools in this province!—cannot, either, until the adults in charge finally get down to the serious business of instituting genuine, heartfelt reforms.