KCLSU Student Council, Projects and Campaigns

Those Pesky Student Councillors – Campaign Against Sexual Assault/Harassment on Campus

by Shanice McBean (3rd year BA Philosophy student, activist and KCLSU Welfare Officer)

TW – discussion of rape and victim blaming

Click here to see last years version of the DRAW YOUR OWN LINE Campaign Pamphlet

Click here to see the motion that was passed at council

Last night at student council (14/01/2013), I spoke on a motion to re-launch the Draw Your Own Line’s campaign; it passed unanimously!

I set up the campaign last year as Women’s Officer in response to the growing trivialisation of sexual abuse. This has been a particular problem in the media within the last few years; think Dominic Strauss-Kahn, Julian Assange, George Galloway, Steubenville, Tod Akin… But it is also epitomised on campuses across the country where members of non-KCLSU Student Unions sought fun in dressing up as rape victims or where student societies believe victim blaming is a legitimate matter for debate. Sadly, this grim picture of making fun of assault is being generalised across the country with incidents at Durham and Oxford, through popular internet memes such as Uni Lad and the popularisation of humiliating ‘games’ like slutdropping. There’s a vast difference between humour to expose the perversity of abuse and humour that makes fun of that abuse. Incidentally, sexist humour has a genuine effect on our attitudes towards rape and rapists.

It’s in this context that Draw Your Own Line was set up, and it’s in this context that I hope to re-launch and expand it.

The NUS report that 1/7 women students at UK universities experience serious sexual or physical assault (including rape) and 68% experience some kind of verbal or non-verbal harassment. In conjunction, NUS have also found that victim blaming and other sexist ideas about sexual assaults are also being precipitated by increasingly misogynistic campus cultures.  Combine this with the fact the Haven’s – a reputable rape crisis centre – have found that 23% of female and 15% of male London respondents they assessed have been made to have sex when they didn’t want to. And to put the mould on this mound of crap; most of their respondents were cynical about believing cases of rape which gels with a lot of the cynicism of the media and, even, our peers. Oh, and don’t forget, there’s evidence to suggest mythological ideas about rape actually affect a juror’s judgement.

This is why Draw Your Own Lines was set up; to try and bulldoze through some of the worst, most damaging and false ideas about sexual abuse but also to spread useful information about where to go if you have been affected. Hopefully, the campaign will be bigger and better this year, but that will rely on the student body backing it and getting involved!