Safety first as Manitoba universities kick off orientation week
University of Winnipeg Student Union promoting safety, responsible alcohol consumption
University student leaders across Manitoba are gearing up for orientation events this week and safety is on the minds of many.
Saint Mary's University in Halifax changed its frosh week policies after a controversial video surfaced last year promoting non-consensual sex with underage girls.
- Saint Mary's sex chant highlights risk of student-led frosh events
- SMU unveils frosh week changes in wake of rape chant
Rorie McLeod Arnould, president of the University of Winnipeg Students' Association (UWSA), said his group is trying to promote a safe space on campus.
"University of Winnipeg Students' Association and the University of Winnipeg have tried to take leading roles in trying to prevent misogyny on campus, working to prevent rape culture and trying to push back against those forces as much as we can," said McLeod Arnould.
"[We try to] create messaging on university campuses of positive alcohol consumption, reasonable alcohol consumption and working against an environment where people would feel threatened trying to promote a safe space and safe culture on campus."
McLeod Arnould said there will be an option for both non-alcohol and alcohol events this week.
The University of Manitoba Students' Association's handbook for first-week volunteers outlines what to do if sexual assault is observed.
"We make sure that our volunteers do have knowledge of bystander intervention to make sure that that doesn't happen," said UMSU president Al Turnbull.
The Klinic Community Health Centre is teaming up with universities across the city to raise awareness about sexual assaults, which are among the leading violent crimes on campuses.
"Giving people that information so that if they do deal with disclosures, which I'm sure they will be, how do they respond in a sensitive way? How do they respond in an effective way?" said Nadia La Rosa, a sexual assault counsellor at Klinic.
Erica Mitchell, a first-year student at the University of Winnipeg, said it's important to be careful at orientation events, but she's confident this week will be problem free.
"Personally knowing students here, I'm not concerned," said Mitchell. "Yeah, we have beer tents open this week but knowing friends, always sticking with a buddy system to me it's just common sense."
Alexandria Klatt, another first-year student at the University of Winnipeg, said she's going to stay alert when heading out for campus events.
"I always go with friends. I never really travel alone."