Ottawa

University of Ottawa condemns 'disgraceful' student pub crawl

The University of Ottawa is condemning a popular annual pub crawl during which students were reportedly encouraged to engage in sexual acts in exchange for team points.

WARNING: This article contains graphic detail

The University of Ottawa is condemning a pub crawl organized by one of its student associations after participants were reportedly awarded points in exchange for engaging in sex acts. (Danny Globerman/CBC)

The University of Ottawa is condemning a popular annual pub crawl during which students were reportedly encouraged to engage in sexual acts in exchange for team points.

Yasmine Mehdi, news editor of the French-language student newspaper La Rotonde, told Radio-Canada she infiltrated this year's Vet's Tour on Oct. 7 with the intention of writing an article on it.

They're pressured into doing some things because you have a list, you have a team, you have to get those points.- Yasmine Mehdi, La Rotonde

According to Mehdi, close to 150 participants took part in the event. She saw a list of dares to be performed during the tour of private rooms in bars in Ottawa's ByWard Market. Those who completed the acts to a judge's satisfaction received points.

The event, which has taken place for several years, has included challenges such as being naked in the bar, performing oral sex on one of the judges, having sex in a bar bathroom and eating a doughnut off a judge's penis, she said.
Yasmine Mehdi, news editor of the University of Ottawa's French-language student newspaper La Rotonde, infiltrated the Vet's Tour pub crawl on Oct. 7. (Radio-Canada)

"They're pressured into doing some things because you have a list, you have a team, you have to get those points," said Mehdi.

The event is organized by the school's Science Students' Association. A 2015 participant who requested anonymity said the pub crawl is by invitation only, and is viewed as a reward for leaders of the university's other student associations.

According to Mehdi, not every participant is aware of the explicit nature of the pub crawl before they arrive to take part.

"It promotes rape culture because the people that are there don't necessarily know what they're getting into," said Mehdi. "I spoke with two or three people who told me, 'I did not know at all. I was told it's a regular pub crawl with friendly challenges, like beer pong.'"

University condemns pub crawl

Late Monday, the University of Ottawa's administration issued a statement regarding the Vet's Tour. 

"The University of Ottawa strongly condemns a recent event at which some students were encouraged to behave disgracefully, and denounces any behaviour that runs counter to the values and policies the University has implemented to prevent sexual violence on campus," according to the statement.

The statement goes on to say the university has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence, and lists a number of policies and resources created to tackle sexual violence.

"This incident reminds us that sexual violence is a societal problem, and that even though university administrators are determined to respond as required, they cannot solve this problem on their own," according to the statement.

"Therefore, they call upon the entire university community to help change such disgraceful behaviour and improve the culture of our campus."

Future pub crawls cancelled

The university's Science Students' Association, which organizes the annual event, also condemned the Vet's Tour through a statement posted on its website Tuesday.

"We assure all our membership and the general public that the Science Students' Association fully and unconditionally condemns any actions, discourse and/or attitudes that contribute, promote or normalize sexual violence and rape culture on the University of Ottawa campus and the community at large," according to the statement.

The association also said it's decided to cancel the event in the future.

"We deeply apologize to anyone who has felt unsafe or pressured to do anything at any of our events, as this has never been the intention of the SSA. The SSA apologizes to anyone who was negatively affected by the event and strongly encourages anyone who has felt victim to sexual harassment or violence to come forward and utilize the confidential university resources."

With files From Jérémie Bergeron, Claudine Richard and Lorian Bélanger

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