Fighting sexual assault on campus: 'A Safer Concordia'

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On this week's episode of Talking Radical Radio, organizer Julie Michaud talks about the "A Safer Concordia" campaign's efforts to oppose sexual assault at Concordia University in Montreal, including the campaign's success in pushing the administration to open a sexual assault centre on campus earlier this academic year.

With rape chants as part of frosh activities reported at Saint Mary's University and UBC back in the fall, the issue of sexual assault at post-secondary institutions in Canada has received more national attention this year than usual. However, it is far from a new problem. The specific features of undergraduate university life intersect with misogyny and rape culture -- that is, the socially pervasive complex of practices and cultural messages that denigrate women and other gender oppressed people and that enable, excuse, and erase sexual assault -- to make sexual violence, a serious problem everywhere, into a particualrly acute one at post-secondary institutions. Yet it is also often a problem that university and college administrations do not do nearly enough to deal with.

At Concordia University in Montreal, a campaign initiated by the student-based Centre for Gender Advocacy has been working to challenge this. This fall, the multi-year "A Safer Concordia" campaign won an important victory when a university-funded sexual assault centre opened on campus -- something that most universities lack, despite the pressing need. The campaign continues to work towards better supports for survivors, to work with students to challenge gender oppression and rape culture, and to build robust practices of consent among students. Michaud has been deeply involved with "A Safer Concordia," and she speaks with me about the problem of sexual violence at universities, the tactics taken up by their campaign, their recent victory, and their hopes for the future.

To learn more about the "A Safer Concordia" campaign, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada through in-depth interviews that concentrate not on current events or the crisis of the moment, but on giving people involved in a broad range of social change work a chance to take a longer view as they talk about what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. To learn more about the show in general, click here.

You can also learn more about ways to listen or go to the show's page on To learn more about suggesting grassroots groups and organizations for future shows, click here. For details on the show's theme music, click here.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Sudbury, Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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