Men in fraternities are not often considered leaders in the fight against campus sexual assault, but one fraternity at the University of Waterloo is hoping to change that.
The Sigma Chi fraternity has released a public service announcement on YouTube called 'Break the Silence,' that encourages men to speak up when they see unacceptable behaviour, and raise awareness about sexual assault and rape culture.
- Exclusive: Sex assault reporting on Canadian campuses worryingly low, say experts
- Interactive: Campus sexual assault reports
According to Dominic Aquilina, a longtime member of Sigma Chi and a student at Waterloo, the group was inspired to make their own video after they saw a video from the White House, condemning sexual assault and filled with celebrity spokespeople. Aquilina said the group decided they wanted to make a video that would better target their own demographic.
"We wanted to take more of a stance to show that we do support the issue, and we created this video as an attempt to put that message out there and try and start a conversation within our community," said Aquilina in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Monday.
'If they're hitting on a girl, they expect them to be receptive automatically and there's no reason for that.' - Dominic Aquilina, member of Sigma Chi
The fraternity held meetings to talk about what message they wanted to put in the video and spoke with women taking sexuality studies at the university to make sure they were on the right track.
"We've gotten a lot of really good feedback in general, although there have been a few cases where people don't necessarily agree with the message or the way it's presented," said Aquilina, who says they deal with those issues on a case by case basis.
But the message that Aquilina is hoping to get across with the PSA is that men don't have a right to sexual access to women. He says that that setting an example for good behaviour starts with the members of the fraternity."It's more that they think rape culture is a myth or they don't think we should be taking a political stance on an issue that's this controversial," said Aquilina.
"For some reason, a lot of people feel entitled to sexual contact, it's like if they're hitting on a girl, they expect them to be receptive automatically and there's no reason for that," said Aquilina. "At some point you need to step in and be like, 'Dude she's not interested, just leave.'"
CBC completes survey on campus sexual assault reports
The PSA comes after a CBC News investigation revealed that sexual assault reporting rates on campuses across the country are abnormally low, a sign that students don't feel comfortable coming forward, say experts.
Over the course of six months, CBC News contacted 87 university and major colleges across Canada to request the number of sexual assaults reported on each campus to the institution between 2009 and 2013.
More than 700 sexual assaults were reported to Canadian universities and colleges over the past five years.
At local institutions, here are the total number of sexual assault reports between 2009-2013:
- University of Waterloo - 19.
- Wilfrid Laurier University - 11.
- Conestoga College - 2.