FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
‘Growth on the Horizon’ Plants Seeds of Change at McGill University
New student-led project addresses sexual assault on Montreal campuses through art
MONTREAL, March 12, 2018—On March 22, the Arts Building Lobby at the heart of McGill University will bustle with students, faculty, staff, and administrators attending the launch of Growth on the Horizon: the first in a yearlong event series aimed at understanding, addressing, and healing from sexual assault and gendered violence at secondary institutions across Montreal. The event is open to the public, free of charge, and features over 30 interactive arts-based activities, installations, and workshops facilitated by collaborating student groups, university offices, and local organizations. All are welcome!
Inspired and supported by the Addressing Gender-based Sexual Violence and Rape Culture on College Campuses project at the Atwater Library & Computer Centre, part of the “Canada 150 Women” initiative by Status of Women Canada focusing on women’s empowerment in 2018, McGill students Cassie Jones (Anthropology) and Sofia Misenheimer (MA Communication Studies) developed Growth on the Horizon in the hope of making their campus safer. After surveying fellow classmates, working closely with the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF), and reviewing the needs assessment prepared for Addressing Gender-based Sexual Violence and Rape Culture on College Campuses, they noted the significant lack of knowledge, trust, and understanding surrounding on-campus sexual assault reporting/response mechanisms and wellness resources. A Maclean’s investigation published earlier this month supported these findings. Nearly a third of female students polled at Canadian universities said they had been sexually assaulted on-campus, while over 80% said they have experienced sexual harassment or abuse. Despite these figures, a third of polled students on average reported lack of clarity surrounding available resources or reporting procedures.
“We’ve found that students are generally unfamiliar or uncomfortable with reporting procedures at their schools,” said Misenheimer, project co-creator and coordinator. “In many cases they feel like they’re not going to be taken seriously, which results in lower reporting levels of assault and harassment. This, in turns, feeds the common misconception that these issues don’t exist on campuses in Montreal. We need to dispel that myth.” Growth on the Horizon, therefore, calls for meaningful on-campus policies and responses to sexual violence that engage lived experiences and are continuously revised and revisited to remain relevant and accessible.
“We need a culture shift and what better tool to raise awareness and encourage dialogue than art?” said Jones, project co-creator and a practicing artist. Through collaborative art activities, Growth on the Horizon seeks to create an environment where participants can engage in a multifaceted experience of healing at the personal, interpersonal, community and institutional levels: healing among students, healing between educational administrations and the students, survivors and marginalized persons they serve, and the healing of institutional processes and systems. The event is designed to inspire collaboration among participants from Dawson, Vanier and John Abbott colleges together with those from McGill, Concordia, UQAM, and UdeM universities to heal, restore and build bridges, both within each respective institution, but, also, between institutions to nurture community-building. For more information, please visit www.tiny.cc/growthonthehorizon.
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