Editorial: It Takes All of Us, But Who Cares?
The School’s Training Is Ineffective, Lacking, and Isn’t Being Taken Seriously
After completing the university’s mandatory online sexual awareness and prevention training, a message appears: “Thank you for doing your part in fostering a safe and respectful environment at Concordia.”
We’d like Concordia to do the same.
Last August, the university—along with the Sexual Assault Resource Centre and the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence—introduced the training that had to be completed by Oct. 4. The training itself took more than five years to develop. So why is It Takes All of Us so flawed?
The university boasts about taking the training to other universities in Quebec, but the way it exists now is a not-good-enough, token gesture that seems to have been created only to fulfill Bill 151’s requirements. It’s a Band-Aid solution to a much larger issue.
A former Concordia student, backed up by the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, came forward describing the ways the university failed to help her get justice.
The university, among other faux-pas, forced her to sit in the same room as her aggressor despite having a court-sanctioned restraining order during a student tribunal—which ultimately let her aggressor off with 30 hours of community service while she fell into poor academic standing and eventually dropped out of school.
What It Takes All of Us does accomplishes is to offer the bare minimum of a shared vocabulary around sexual violence—for those who actually complete the training.
While it is mandatory, it’s easy to speed through the training without actually taking it. Although the video stops when viewers open other tabs, they can simply play the video on their device, returning to the screen a couple of times to answer questions, and occupy themselves with something else.
There are even entire Reddit threads and discussions on pages like Spotted: Concordia on how to find ways to skip through the training. Other posts are dedicated to complaining about how “useless” and “tedious” this training was.
Having the online format also prevents students from asking questions or having anyone present to see how engaged they are with the content. There are in-person trainings available, though it seems most students aren’t aware or just don’t care.
But, one of the biggest issues with the training is that it perpetuates the idea that rapists rape because they don’t know it’s rape. We argue that most rapists know what they’re doing is wrong, but do it anyways.
An online module telling them “this is wrong” without imposing any tangible consequences or emphasizing the criminal nature of sexual violence is simply not good enough and undermines the reality of many survivors.
It’s not surprising that the training is less than adequate—after all, Concordia is notoriously bad at addressing sexual violence on campus.
In 2017, the student-led Canada-wide movement Our Turn, which works to eradicate sexual violence on campuses, evaluated Concordia’s sexual violence policies and awarded it the lowest grade out of 14 schools examined.
There were multiple scandals on how Concordia deals with sexual violence as well, like accusations against professors in the English and philosophy departments that ultimately got swept under the rug. And, even if students do file complaints against their aggressors, they will never find out if they received any sanctions or what the university did with its complaints.
The university isn’t doing its part until it creates real policies that will help and protect survivors rather than aggressors and offers a complete training giving survivors an extensive list of both internal and external resources without bias.
So, Concordia, it does take all of us. That includes you.