May 28, 2022

People from across Waterloo Region joined together Thursday (Sept. 15) evening to protest sexual assault and gender-based violence. The event was hosted by the Take Back the Night foundation, and the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region (SASC).

Ruth Cameron, Executive Director of The Aids Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo area (ACCKWA), kicked off the night with a powerful message.

“What are we here to reckon with at Take Back the Night?” said Cameron. “What are we talking about? And when we say take back the night, we’re taking it with whom? Who’s at our side in solidarity?”

Community members marching at the Take Back the Night protest in downtown Kitchener

Cameron reminded everyone how vital it is that people fight back against the violence that women in Waterloo Region face every day, but it’s also important to know what resources are available to you.

Some Conestoga College students returned to in-person learning this semester and more could be on campus in the winter semester. What’s supposed to be an exciting time is instead conjuring feelings of worry and safety concerns for some students.

Here are several ways students can protect themselves on campus:

  • Take precautions walking alone at night
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Always carry a cell phone
  • Learn how to defend yourself physically
  • Have a plan should you find yourself in a dire situation
  • Use the Walksafe program

Conestoga’s Doon campus offers 24/7 access to its Walksafe program. The program provides staff that will escort you anywhere on campus or homes that are in the general area.

Anxious students at university and college campuses across Ontario have been following news reports about alleged sexual assaults at Western and Guelph universities.

While learning of this incident may feel shocking to some, some Western students feel that a solution to this problem is long overdue.

Yasmeen Aboumarie, a third- year Western student, believes this violence could have been prevented.

“This didn’t just happen now, it’s been happening,” said Aboumarie, “A lot of people aren’t aware that a lot of women here, will avoid at all costs taking any night classes because they don’t want to be walking alone at night.”

A survey conducted by the Council of Ontario Universities showed that during the 2017-2018 school year, 71 per cent of Western students reported being sexually harassed, and 32 per cent reported being sexually assaulted.

Police are investigating four separate incidents of illegal drugging that occurred at the University of Guelph on Saturday Sept. 18. Fanshawe college had an issue with multiple threatening posts just days after the alleged assaults at Western.

Last Friday, thousands of Western students walked out of classes to support sexual assault survivors and to protest misogyny and rape culture. The University has now launched an action plan and a task force in response.

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