Students walk out at Western University amid sexual assault reports
Students walked out of class at Western University at noon on Friday to protest 30 sexual assaults reported at a residence at the University of Western Ontario.
The walk is in response to the sexual violence committed against members of the Western community and the walkout is "to stand with survivors and demand change," organizers Western SGBV Walkout posted.
In response to the sexual violence committed against members of our Western community last Friday, we will be staging a walkout to stand with survivors and demand change.#ProtectOurStudents #BelieveSurvivors #MakeCampusSafe #WesternUniversity #WeDeservetoFeelSafe pic.twitter.com/5lDS19bJ3P— Western SGBV Walkout (@UWOSGBVWalkout) September 14, 2021
Some people estimated about 8,000 people joined the protest.
At last 8000 people.— Carla Joobear 🐈 (@CJoobear) September 17, 2021
Stunning, moving, powerful.
I'm so proud of, and impressed by, Western University's undergrads today and everyone there in solidarity.#protectourstudents #IBelieveYouDay #westernuniversity https://t.co/zW0zDkplMJ
The students are protesting a "culture of misogyny" on campus and what they call a failure by the school to address it.
"There is this culture of misogyny, and homophobia, that are the underlying issues on campus that allow events like this to happen," protest organizer Hayden Van Neck told the Toronto Star.
Students marched carrying signs that read "Enough is enough", "We deserve to be safe on our own campus" and "How many more?" They chanted "No more silence, stop this violence".
The students questioned how Western handled the allegations and want the school to immediately prepare and implement "cohesive and mandatory gender-based and sexual violence education training modules."
Powerful messages & emotional words at #WesternU @UWOSGBVWalkout #LdnOnt— Peggy Sattler (@PeggySattlerNDP) September 17, 2021
Extra policing is not the answer. We must teach men not to rape, instead of teaching women not to get raped. Good day to wear my button #onPSE #ProtectOurCampus #BelieveSurvivors #EndRapeCulture pic.twitter.com/0ud8XRXAIk
In response, the school announced it is launching a new student safety action plan.
The action plan will increase safety and security on campus by introducing new security measures, including hiring new special constables, enhancing security patrols, and implementing mandatory in-person sexual violence awareness and prevention training for all students in residence.
The university is also striking a Task Force on Sexual Violence and Student Safety to better understand and eradicate sexual violence and create a campus culture where these unacceptable actions are prevented.
We have a lot of work to do. We have a culture problem that we need to address. Today, we are announcing our first steps to examine the culture on our campus and identify what more we can do to ensure the safety and security of every member of our community.— Western University (@WesternU) September 16, 2021
"This has been a tremendously difficult time for our students and the entire Western community. We clearly have a culture problem that we need to address. We let our students and their families down," said Western President Alan Shepard.
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