SMU Changes Orientation Strategy after Last Year’s Rape Chant

The Saint Mary’s University President’s Council Action Team has made two major changes this year, namely a mandatory online education program about sexual consent and an optional bystander training programs aimed at preventing sexual violence and encouraging respect on campus. These are the steps taken in response to a report commissioned in the wake of an orientation-week cheer about rape that made national headlines last year.

Chairwoman of the team in charge of implementing the report’s recommendations, Esther Enns, mentioned that “there may be a silver lining” because “this is a huge issue for society and maybe we can … make a contribution to help address this and come out of this in a positive way by trying to help.” In addition to that, the Halifax school also announced to update its codes of conduct and introduced a university-wide charter of respect. Moreover, it is formalizing its sexual assault reporting policy, where students will be made aware of and given contact information for the 24-hour Avalon Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program.

The university’s orientation week, though redesigned and renamed Welcome Week, will be starting on Monday and will this time include more involvement by faculty. University spokesperson, Travis Smith, mentioned in his remarks that “there are still lots of fun things going on” since “there is an event that takes up the bulk of the morning called Play Fair, and that is really all about games and team building, but those are respectful activities that are still fun.”

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