Saint Mary’s promises culture of consent

SMUSA president Jared Perry addresses the press on September 5 before stepping down the next day. He participated in the chant. (Calum Agnew photo)

SMUSA president Jared Perry addresses the press on September 5 before stepping down the next day. He participated in the chant. (Calum Agnew photo)

Saint Mary’s University is committed to serious cultural change following the release of a new report, says university president Colin Dodds.

The 110-page document, “Promoting a Culture of Safety, Respect and Consent at Saint Mary’s University and Beyond,” was made in response to an orientation week event in September where freshmen were led by frosh leaders in a chant with the theme of underage rape.

The executive summary of the report includes 20 recommendations on how SMU could handle issues of sexual violence, inclusivity and safety on campus.

One of the recommendations suggests SMU should “establish clear standards of behavioural norms that would apply to all members of the university community.”

The report shows student leaders at SMU identified 23 “sources of sexualization/sexism during O-Week,” including “society and cultures.”

One response suggested to “repair the harms caused by the O-week practices” is to “come up with new (clean) chants about DAL.”

“The University thanks the President’s Council for its important work and commits to implementing all of the recommendations in a timely manner,” said Dodds in a media release on Dec. 19. “This will not be easy, but it’s necessary and so we have already begun to work on implementing many of them.”

The same day, a commenter on SMU’s official Facebook page said that if the report is “as well thought out as your smoking and e-cigarette policy,” it “will be another complete failure and hardly worth the paper it’s printed on.”

In reply, SMU’s Facebook account said “the council’s report is substantial and includes a broad range of recommendations based in best practices found at other institutions and from the direct experiences of some of the council’s members.”

“The University will be judged by our timely actions and not on the independent council’s words alone,” said SMU.

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Jesse Ward

Jesse, editor-in-chief of the Gazette, is a fifth-year student of journalism at Dalhousie and the University of King’s College. He started university with three years of experience writing for Teens Now Talk magazine, where he is now copy editor. Before writing a story Jesse likes to think about how his metal detector could finally be useful in researching this one, but there is never a way it could be. Jesse has produced writing and interactive features for Globalnews.ca and The Chronicle Herald. He may be followed on Twitter, @RealJesseWard, or from the Gazette office on Mondays around 8 p.m. to his home in West End Halifax.

Email Jesse at editor@dalgazette.com.

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