Content warning: rape, sexual assault
I have spent the better part of the last ten years labouring towards holding University and College administrators accountable for their gross administrative, political and academic negligence. Far more concerned with preserving their brand image at all cost than by fostering curiosity, critical thought and academic rigor in students, they are a wretched lot of sadistic blood-thirsty leeches that are largely responsible for the deterioration of schools and growing anxiety of students.
I don’t come to their defence easily, but when the Globe & Mail published an editorial condemning the University of Ottawa’s president for the continued suspension of their hockey season, I call bullshit.
uOttawa President Allan Rock has indeed handled much of the aftermath of revelations of a gang rape in Thunder Bay during a two-game series extremely poorly. He spearheaded a flimsy “Task Force on Respect & Equality” that neglected to meaningfully engage interested students, professors and staff in the process and proved to entirely ignore any sign of systemic sexism or rape culture on campus.
He toyed with using the travesty in Thunder Bay as an excuse to revisit the introduction of an unpopular Non-Academic Code of Conduct. Of course, such codes of conduct already exist – it’s called the law. They are most used to thwart political organising and dissent on campus, not to dismantle deeply entrenched systems of campus oppression.
No new or substantive policy proposals have taken form and there remains a flagrant lack of consent and anti-oppression training provided by the University, which leaves the Student Unions and their labour allies as the only bodies actively engaging in tackling Rape Culture on campus.
But firing the coach that tried to bury the story and suspending the team’s activities until the case is fully closed? Those remain the only right moves Mr. Rock has made during this entire lurid affair. While charges have only been pressed against two students, it remains entirely possible and likely that other Gee-Gee players knew of their teammates agressions and stayed silent “for the good of the team”.
When we speak of Rape Culture, we are speaking of a phenomenon that is globally present in all aspects of society. Though truthfully some areas are worse offenders than others, and the toxic hypermasculinity of college and professional sports tops the list. At uOttawa, “Hung like a Gee-Gee” and “Ride it” are proudly sported as slogans for their teams. This only further emphasises the impunity and cockiness by which cis male athletes are trained to perform. Above all else they are told that their sex is powerful, admirable and sought after. This is the message uOttawa teaches their athletes.
Lost in the Globe and Mail’s editorial is compassion, empathy and rage for victims and survivors of rape and sexual assault. They are more bothered by the “injustice” of students not having the opportunity to play hockey than by what transpired in Thunder Bay. It’s a sickening all too familiar argument. It’s rape culture, and it needs to stop.