CSU and ASFA Adopt Safe Space Policy For Reggie’s

Student Bodies Mandate Staff Take Sensitivity Training

  • Reggie’s Bar will now have a “safer space” policy. Photo Nik Litzenberger

  • The motion first passed at the CSU regular council meeting on March 9, 2016. Photo Noelle Didierjean

Both the Concordia Student Union and the Arts and Science Federation of Associations have passed contentious motions to create a safe space policy at Concordia’s on-campus bar, Reggie’s.

The motion was passed at the CSU regular council meeting on March 9, while an ASFA motion passed at a regular council meeting on March 10.

The policy was adopted in response to incidents that have occurred at Reggie’s—located on the mezzanine level of the Hall building downtown—involving the alleged harassment of students or the presence of sexual harassers.

“There have been instances where there are Concordia students that are known for putting GHB in women’s drinks, and they have been seen at Reggie’s,” said Lana Galbraith, the ASFA Sustainability Coordinator. GHB is a date-rape drug.

The policy would primarily affect Reggie’s staff members, mandating them to undergo formal training in order to facilitate a safe space.

The original cohort of staff members already underwent sensitivity training, according to CSU general coordinator Terry Wilkings. However, Katie Nelson, who was at CSU council motivating for the motion, would like to see the current staff retake the training.

“It was actually the staff that’s there now that created an unsafe space,” Nelson said.

She pushed for an amendment to the motion to make the current staff re-do consent and bystander violence workshops. The amendment passed.

“The point of the policy is just to put mechanisms in place for the employees to be able to respond better and to know what to do in these circumstances,” Jenna Cocullo, ASFA general coordinator, said at the March 10 meeting.

The motion also delays CSU and ASFA-hosted events until the proper training has been implemented.

“I just feel like, along with a couple other students, that when we have CSU events there, and it’s not a safe space,” Nelson said. “It excludes a lot of students from those events, and puts the event in a space that’s not accessible to them safely.”

Events that were already planned will not be affected. Clubs and member associations will not be forced to withhold events, but are encouraged to do so.

The policy will be implemented in consultation with the Centre For Gender Advocacy. The Centre recently passed a resolution to have a permanent seat on Reggie’s board of directors, according to Wilkings.

There was some debate at both council meetings regarding the motion.

One of the criticisms of the policy was that a safe space can never truly exist at a bar. The wording of the CSU motion was changed from “safe” to “safer” in order to address this concern.

“You can never guarantee a safe space, but the point of the policy is just to ensure that there is a foundation from which all the actors involved can reference whenever these kinds of situations occur,” said Marcus Peters, who is a councillor for both the CSU and ASFA.

Frankie Sunnyshine, independent councillor at ASFA and a Reggie’s employee, spoke passionately against the motion, as he eventually walked out of council.

“I’m just speaking out of the heart, and I’m just letting you guys know that Reggie’s creates a safe space,” he said.

He explained that other bars are less safe than Reggie’s, and that the staff already underwent sensitivity training. He was also unhappy that ASFA was pushing to give MA’s more autonomy, while at the same time trying to force the policy down their throats.

“A lot of you guys are very dramatic, I feel it’s ridiculous. You guys are supposed to be for the students, not for yourselves. Not for personal gain—for the students. And that’s why I joined here,” said Sunnyshine.

“This is ridiculous. I’m out,” he said, as he stormed out of the meeting.

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