A Nova Scotia student group is offering up some thoughts on how to change attitudes about sex after 10 football players at Saint Mary's University made headlines for tweeting sexist and racist remarks.

The players were suspended from that school's team after the vulgar comments were found on their Twitter pages.

Saint Mary's University was the subject of international scrutiny in the fall after a video emerged of a frosh week chant encouraging underage sex without consent.

But, a group representing students says there is a silver lining.

"It's a question of pulling something positive out of a bad situation. And I think that there is a lot of momentum that has developed," said Students Nova Scotia spokesman Jonathon Williams.

The group released a report earlier this month looking at the culture around sexual violence on campuses in Nova Scotia.

It suggested:

  • Student leaders make public pledges to stand up against inappropriate behaviour.
  • Discussion groups about rape culture.
  • Mail letters to first year students and their parents before classes begin about the importance of consent.
  • Programs for men to prevent violence against women.

The report also says consent goes beyond the popular "no means no" campaign.

"When you're thinking about hooking up with somebody, it's not about avoiding a no. It's got to be about getting a yes," said Williams.

SMU football players declined to comment Tuesday.

Football players at Saint Mary's University in Halifax locked down their social media profiles Tuesday, a day after 10 players were suspended from the team for tweeting hateful and sexist remarks. (CBC)

"If you set the bar at simply, 'I didn't get a no,' then that's a pretty low bar. The person, to engage in a sexual activity, has to actually want to do it for there to be consent and that no means no that doesn't necessarily communicate that consent."

Using athletes for change

The women's centre in Antigonish agrees. Two years ago, football players at St. Francis Xavier University posed for a poster campaign.

The black and white photos of players in uniform are underscored by bold quotes from the players themselves like, "Men should love and cherish women."

"It was almost surprising how surprising people found that campaign to be," said Annie Chau, who heads up the program to prevent sexual violence at St FX.

"Because they didn't expect these messages to be coming from athletes."