Quebec university condemns 'vulgar' event that awarded points for sexual behaviour
Critic calls student competition an example of rape culture
A university in Gatineau, Que., is investigating an on-campus event where students were given a list of challenges such as "kiss a girl" or "take a picture of someone's breasts," which critics condemned for promoting a culture that enables sexual assaults.
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The unsanctioned social gathering was part of an inter-university event for communications and journalism students, held Thursday night at an on-campus bar at the Université du Québec en Outaouais.
Students with Les Jeux de la Communication passed out a list of challenges — dubbed "The 12 labours of Hercules" — to other students that were worth points, including taking a picture of someone's breasts, taking a picture of someone's bra, kissing a girl or participating in a wet T-shirt contest.
After several students at the event shared the list on social media, the reaction was swift, according to the university's women's committee president Valerie La France.
"I think the response from everybody was they were furious," said La France. "They didn't understand how someone could think that was funny or think that was OK to do … everybody was outraged, everybody was already asking for actions from the university."
'Worst example of rape culture'
Communications students at universities in Quebec regularly participate in group challenges at different universities across the province. But La France and many student leaders believe the event crossed a line in promoting misogynistic behaviour that reduced women to sexual objects.
"This is the worst example of rape culture I've ever seen. It's the most vulgar one, too," she said.
The school's student union and organizers of the next communications games at the University of Sherbrooke have both condemned the event.
The leaders of the student bar where the event took place also asked organizers to leave after they got wind of the list.
Cancelled event didn't meet school 'values'
The students who organized the challenge didn't respond to CBC's request for comment.
University rector Denis Harrisson said the event goes against the school's values and code of conduct and that it is investigating.
"It's not appropriate, and that's why we condemn this event," said Harrison.
He said it could be weeks before the investigation is complete and that students could face punishments as severe as expulsion.
When asked if there was a "rape culture" problem on campus, Harrison said he would need to get more informed before commenting.
La France said, "If you deny there is a problem, then of course it's going to endure."
She believes the whole community can learn from the incident.
"The incident was unfortunate, of course, and I pray to God that there were no victims, and that no women will wake up today feeling like she got taken advantage of. But it is a great opportunity to engage in discussion about rape culture," she said.