Violence prevention week aims to raise awareness

Rams defensive tackle Tyler Perkins pledged to help end violence at Monday’s press conference. Photo - Taylor MacPherson

Rams defensive tackle Tyler Perkins pledged to help end violence at Monday’s press conference. Photo – Taylor MacPherson

University announces new policy on sexual assault, violence prevention

This week is Violence Prevention Week at the University of Regina, a joint initiative between the University Administration and Man Up Against Violence, a grassroots awareness organization chaired by Roz Kelsey of the Kinesiology and Health Studies department.

Events kicked off with a press conference hosted by University spokesman Costa Maragos, and attended by dignitaries from the U of R, as well as the provincial and municipal governments. Representatives from URSU and the Regina Police Service were also present. Speaking first was Hon. Scott Moe, Minister of Advanced Education. Moe discussed the importance of stronger violence-prevention policies, and the importance of clear consent to prevent sexual assault.

The next speaker was Hon. Mark Docherty, Minister of Parks, Culture, and Sport. Docherty applauded the University for recent efforts to raise awareness, and for implementing a new policy to prevent violence against women.

Docherty called the issue “critically important,” and stated, “It’s all of our responsibility not to be bystanders.”

University Associate Vice President (Academic and Research) Dr. Dena McMartin explained the new U of R policy on sexual assault and violence prevention, saying that the Man Up Against Violence movement has “made us a national leader in addressing gendered violence, healthy masculinity, and healthy environments and workplaces… we see the embracing of positive ideals of strong masculinity, and the inspiration of men to accept their roles as advocates in the movement towards preventing violence in our communities.”

According to McMartin, the new university policy “recognizes that everyone has the opportunity and the right to a safe place to work, study, and live, when they’re interacting with the University of Regina… we’re focussing on education, training, and awareness for students staff and faculty, through a variety of venues.”

McMartin also emphasized the importance of security in the on-campus residences, stating that student-employees in residence “have seen and encountered incidents of sexual assault, and not known how to respond.”

Man Up Against Violence spokesperson (and Rams defensive tackle) Tyler Perkins delivered a heartfelt speech on the links between masculinity and violence, citing examples of stereotypical gender expectations from his own life in the male-dominated world of football.

According to Perkins, “men are taught to be violent” as an acceptable response to emotion, rather than being honest about their doubts or frustrations.

“There is a direct link between masculinity and violence,” says Perkins. “When something occurs at the rate that violence against women does, we have to take a step back from individualistic explanations and towards a more expansive approach.”

“What are we telling people about being a man?” asked Perkins in his speech, discussing the influence on masculine stereotyping held by families, peers, and the media. “The belief that men are – and should be – dominant over women has guided the formation of our gender roles and regulates relations between genders… although we have been moving away from patriarchal gender relations, the lingering effects of hegemonic masculinity are very much alive today.”

Violence Prevention Week events include a speech by former police officer and domestic violence expert Mark Wynn, and awareness sessions on the new Sexual Assault and Violence Policy. On Oct. 29, a documentary produced by the U of R President’s Office in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Government’s Status of Women Office will be screened in RIC 119 at 4:30 p.m., followed by a panel discussion.

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