Post by WAVAW Volunteer, Baylee
This will be my fourth year attending the University of British Columbia.
My fourth year of what should have been uninterrupted learning, personal growth, and memory making. Instead, I am overrun by headline after headline of assault, attack, and violence against women on campus.
We are just one month into the semester and the fear that so persistently blankets this campus is once again renewed. A female student living in a first-year student dorm was held at knifepoint by a male assailant. The news is littered with interviews of other first-year women questioning the safety of their new campus, their home. Campus leaders are already preaching about SafeWalk, a service for which I am grateful for on campus, but one that also points to how naturalized violence against women on this campus has become.
The RCMP and university president, Santo Ono, have each released their obligatory statements on the incident, and together “reassure” us that “there is no risk to our community” following the attack. How can that be true when attacks on women at UBC are so pervasive and, clearly, ongoing? How can that be true when female students are continuously made to shoulder the responsibility of avoiding violence?
Since my very first move-in day into residence, I have been reminded daily that this campus is not a safe space for us. It has taken until my senior year for UBC to review its policy on sexual assault. I am angry, and I am tired. Tired of the University refusing to take accountability for its student body, for its mismanagement of cases, and for the rape culture it maintains. Angry because while I will soon be graduating and leaving campus life, there are thousands of young women who will be moving here and beginning an academic career marred by a culture that avoids acknowledging or addressing the gendered issues that will impede on their educational experience. Young women who should be making choices that help them best learn and grow, instead of choices they think might keep them safest from violence.
Rape culture is a risk to our community. And it’s time for the university to recognize that.