Carleton still doesn’t recognize student run hotline

Volunteers offer support to sexual assault victims


A student sexual assault crisis centre at Carleton University celebrated its one year anniversary Tuesday evening, but the group still has yet to be officially recognized. According to a report in the Ottawa Citizen, the university does not permit the Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre to advertise its services and that campus security removes their posters. The group is made up of 25 volunteers who take shifts fielding calls from 8am to midnight, using their own cellphones. While the students’ union supports the group, university spokesperson Beth Gorham says “Carleton already offers a range of counselling and medical support.” Calls for the creation of a crisis centre followed a sexual assault that took place on campus in 2007, and students supported the idea in a 2008 referendum.

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Carleton still doesn’t recognize student run hotline

  1. this is a human issue and should not be subject to political turf wars .

    There is no blame attached – just get on with it.

  2. Carleton is doing the right thing.

    These services already exist. There is no need to duplicate and take away much-needed funding away from other programs on campus just to satisfy a few bitter womens studies majors who think they are raising awareness.

    • Hey there,

      I understand that this is a highly politicized issue, but as someone who does support work on campus, I can tell you that these are needed services. First off, the centre would be providing a totally different model of support, than what is offered at health and counseling services. Also, as someone who has experienced sexual assault on carleton campus I can tell you that the services offered at Health and Counseling are not specific to sexual assault. It takes much training to be able to specifically deconstruct sexual assault. Also, at Health and Counseling there is the issue of conflict-of-interest if folks are being sexual assaulted by their professors or TA’s. The sexual assault centre would be a space for people to come share experiences, and would also offer advocacy and public education campaigns on deconstructing rape culture and sexual violence on campuses, during frosh week, and in residences. It would provide workshops, and a totally alternative service to the one offered through the administration, whom blamed a student for their own sexual assault. So not only, did that perpetuate rape myth, many survivors on campus lost trust in administration run services. Not everyone experiences sexual assault in the same way, and healing is not the same process for everyone. 20-25% of university aged women WILL be sexually assaulted in their university career, and that is a high number. The more services, the better. This is what the students are asking for, and the campus community. It’s not a matter of a few women’s studies majors, it’s a matter of building community support. There is so much stigma and shame surrounding sexual assault and it NEEDS to be deconstructed and dealt with. Institutional responses to sexualized violence on campuses focus more on enhancing security measures like Carleton did when they spent 1.6 million dollars on security, the sms text system, the safe walk path, and cameras, but this doesn’t account for the reality of sexual assault. 80% of sexual assault happens by someone we know, and these measures do not at all aid to combat that reality. And, if this story went national, clearly those “few women studies majors” are doing something right. They also have the support of Jane Doe and there is something to be said from that.

    • This is a fairly ignorant comment. I can recognize this and I didn’t major in womens studies.

      • my comment was a reply to “enough”‘s comment. I didn’t realize it wouldn’t post along with it.

  3. Thank you to Maclean’s for discussing our struggle. It’s been a long one!

    As for those who are opposed to the idea, I suggest you take a look at our work before you side with the University. This is not about us being against the university administration nor is this some Women’s Studies pet project. Students, staff, alumni AND faculty are on board with this initiative. Furthermore, we’re not re-inventing the wheel here. The University of Alberta, which is consistently viewed as one of the top universities in Canada, has a sexual assault centre on its campus. York U has a support line on its campus.

    In fact, research shows that universities that do offer the types of services we’re asking for, have improved reputation and better enrolment rates. Why? Because parents send their kids to schools that they know have their best interests at heart. Schools that bury important issues like violence, don’t send that message. Carleton is currently that school; but it doesn’t have to be.

  4. Carleton Administration should support this effort. Particularly at a time where applications in ALL faculties are down from previous years. Schools with sexual assault centers are seeing the largest INCREASE in applicants, people go where they are safe.
    The position the university has taken in the past needs to be changed if they are to improve their reputation. Carleton can then become an innovative school that leads progressive research. A sexual assault support center also offers a great avenue to study sexual assault in an effort to eradicate it. Until Carleton gets on board with having a sexual assault support center, they are embarrassing themselves and everyone who has to rely on their good name to get jobs in their field. Carleton, stop being Rape U, and start being progressive, this isn’t 1975.

  5. @Enough “These services already exist”?? clearly, yuo have no idea what you’re talking about. If you are a woman who has experienced sexual assault, then you will know that having a safe space where there is solid and anonymous support is invaluable. this is the experience of many women, and this is my experience. THANK YOU to Maclean’s for covering a very important issue, and thank you to the good women of Carleton who are working their butts off to cover a 24 hour crises line and standing strong despite some obvious cases of pure ignorance on and off campus.

  6. The crisis line is 7 days a week but not 24 hours, it is important to note that.

  7. I do not attend Carleton, but I wanted to take this oportunity to commend the volunteers who have been providing this service to students on their own time for a year! You are an inspiration! I also am confounded by those individuals who are not supportive of this – How can you find fault with caring and smart folks trying to help the vulnerable? They are making Carleton a better place!

  8. I can say without a doubt that if I had known at 17 what I now know about Carleton Admin’s politics and non-response to sexual and gender-based violence on campus – I would not have chosen Carleton as the place to pursue my undergraduate degree. The idea of paying several thousands of dollars to a university that explicitly and implicitly demonstrates that they do not care about listening to the needs of students, and instead would prefer to perpetuate the very culture that harms womyn, is absolutely preposterous.

    I take personal offense to the idea that the womyn and men who are fighting so tirelessly for the needs of students are only a few “angry women’s studies majors.” To be frank, there are only a few Women and Gender Studies majors in the group of students who are fighting for this cause and statements like that really conflate the issue to being something that’s “womyn’s only.” Violence against womyn affects everybody because it happens to our lovers, partners, sisters, mothers, aunties, best friends, grandmas, and acquaintances. Anyone who thinks they haven’t met a survivor is delusional, and the unfortunate thing is that on a campus like Carleton, the culture of silencing is so prevalent and enforced by Administration – that I survivors aren’t encouraged to disclose for fear of being silenced, not believed, and not having services that support them – services they have asked for in two separate referendum questions in the past three years.

  9. SHAME ON THE UNIVERSITY! If people get their facts straight before commenting, they would know that the hot line is absolutely necessary and that what Julie Lalonde and her colleagues are asking for is most reasonable and absolutely necessary. People who side with the University admin. have no idea whatsoever what is truly going on or they simply don’t give a darn. Congratulations to Julie and all those who care deeply enough to do what they are doing. They should not have to plead with the University to feel safe and protected. Shame on Runte – a woman at the helm at that University! Can you believe it? SHAME ON YOU CARLETON! Talk about a University dumbing down!

  10. The fact that people are siding with Carleton actually shocks me. The University has done nothing to aid in this struggle. The Coalition has operated without any University funding or help for that matter, everything has been done with volunteers for the past 367 days from 8 am- 12 am constantly supporting survivors. Also, if you attend Carleton and have sought out for sexual assault support you would realize that these services hardly exist on campus, one person who is not qualified to help sexual assault survivors on a campus of 20,000 + students and faculty, when 1 in 4 women will be assaulted in their life, that is simply unacceptable. The folks in the Coalition offer peer support, no slut shaming, no victim blaming, survivors are supported, this is an essential center that needs to be put into Carleton IMMEDIATELY. SHAME RUNTE and Shame to all those DE-legitimizing the work being done.

  11. As a Carleton student and someone who does support work, I feel it is very necessary that as many services as possible are provided. As was mentioned above, sexual assault is experienced and dealt with in a multitude of ways; therefore, having only one model and one service provider is insufficient and frankly unrealistic to meet the needs of a university. Not only this, but the services currently offered from CU admin is not adequate to provide services for everyone in need, there is just too much demand and not enough staff. Hence, the Carleton Sexual Assault Support line is a crucial thing to have for students who can’t wait for admin services or for people who do not want to treated under the medical model or for people who prefer laying their trust in peers. And the list goes on and on. A university should have these services, these are not things that students should have to fight for. Every person at university pays thousands to go there and as anyone else who attends knows, you spend a huge portion of your time there. Why not then create a space where people feel free and safe?? The fact that CU admin is being counter-productive to this goal is hugely shocking and I too would reconsider applying to Carleton if I knew at the time what a battle this would be. We need to create a centre to create open dialogue on violence against womyn, promote consent and raise awareness on the issues around sexual and gender based violence. This should be a priority!!! If the Support Line wasn’t needed than the line wouldn’t be used, for obvious reasons that is not the case. 1 in 4 womyn will be assaulted in their lifetime, let’s stop de-legitimizing the hard work people are doing to end sexual and gender based violence and instead make this a public concern. Shame on Runte, Admin. and anyone else from preventing this.

  12. Pingback: Coalition for a Carleton Sexual Assault Centre

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