The No Means No campaign continues this year on campuses throughout B.C. Since the beginning in 1992, the campaign has worked with students to raise awareness against rape, sexual assault, and dating violence, as gender-based violence is one of the most persistent and widespread human rights violations in the world according to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).
The CFS and the VIU Students’ Union are hoping the No Means No campaign will shed light on the misconceptions around sexualized violence, opening up the conversation for students as school begins again.
The campaign begins again after many attacks on women were reported at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with four attacks in four weeks.
Katya MacDonald, Women’s Student Representative of the VIUSU remarks that “UBC is actually not a member of the CFS, and they don’t run the No Means No campaign.”
“It’s something we’ve always had on campus,” adds Michael Olson, Executive Director of VISU.
The Canadian Federation of StudentsBC includes post-secondary students from 15 universities and colleges across the province. Katie Marocchi, Chairperson of CFSBC, said the campaign is also “to inform men that they are responsible for not being perpetrators of sexualized violence in their community and how they can take an active stance against rape.”
MacDonald stated the campaign is “one of the longest standing campaigns of the federation,” and explains that it is “largely a campaign geared towards men being the perpetrators of the violence.”
It consists of posters, postcards, and stickers—messages that VIU students may have seen on the bathroom stalls on campus—hoping the message will not only inform women on campus but teach every student about all the different types of violence that can occur.
The campaign uses its name as a jumping off point in their posters, with phrases like “I’ve changed my mind means no” and “silence means no.”
A report by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics entitled “Sexual Assault in Canada 2004 and 2007” states that in 2007, 82 per cent of cases reported to the police showed the victim and the offender knew one another, with 18 per cent of assaults being committed by a stranger to the victim. This statistic shows that the No Means No campaign is a necessary step for students’ unions to include on campus for all students.
“But this campaign is, in a lot of ways, just about, if the person said ‘no,’ ‘don’t,’ ‘go away,’ or ‘I have a boyfriend,’” says Olson, “the message around the campaign is meant to be stark and so clear that you can’t misinterpret it.”
“I also think the community resources that are available off campus for victims of sexual violence are not so well-known.” MacDonald mentions “there is a unit of nurses—the SAIN nurses, which stand for Sexual Assault Intervention Nurses—they would be the first line of contact for anybody who either knows or thinks they’ve been sexually assaulted.”
According to MacDonald, the United Nations identifies that beginning on October 16, they have begun “16 days to end violence against women.” Because of this, VIUSU is hosting an event on November 25 at 5:30pm screening Tough Guise 2, Jackson Katz’s second movie examining media and the social construction of the male identity in the 21st century. The movie will be followed by a panel of men speaking on the topic. Look on campus for event posters for more information.