My blog posting of just a few days ago has received unprecedented traffic and I am grateful for that because it has brought to my attention that the student whose participation in the facebook post caused my pedagogical crisis was not in fact my student. I mistook the names and for that misidentification, I apologize.
I want to take this opportunity to applaud the many students who have stepped forward to say that rape culture at the University of Guelph is unacceptable. In particular, I would like to thank the brave students who have stepped forward to talk about their own experiences of sexual assault on campus and around the city. Your stories are very moving.
We live in a culture where to be sexually victimized is a double assault. There is the primary assault, which is popularly condemned (though in actual practice is both on the rise and decreasingly prosecuted), and there are the myriad everyday events that question the victim’s sexual autonomy, dehumanize the victim, and turn a victim into an object for the sexual pleasure of others. These women and men who have stepped forward on the facebook page, as well as in the comments of my blog and in personal emails to me, are personal inspirations to continue to teach and work for gender equity on campus and in the world.
Clearly, this is a discussion that this campus needs to have. What we can learn from this experience as a university community is that we need to have more dialogue, more discussion, more open forums where students, faculty, staff, and the community can all address this issue on equal and open terms.
I’m sad to see that the entire thread has been removed from facebook because silencing the issue of rape culture on and around campus will not make the issue go away. Only by talking about this and engaging in respectful dialogue that takes as its primary premise that rape is unacceptable can we possibly begin to develop a culture on campus where dehumanization is not the default, but the aberration.
Finally, I’d like to say that I am interested in opening that dialogue on campus. If, however, there are those who honestly feel that your rights to freedom of speech and/or expression have been curtailed or your character maligned by my post, I encourage you to take up a grievance with the Human Rights and Equity Office at the University of Guelph.