By Deepika Shewaramani and Nadya Domingo
YouTube sex-educator Laci Green says universities need to make spaces for sexual assault survivors to feel safe and supported.
Green spoke to about 200 Ryerson students — a slightly smaller audience than her usual one million YouTube subscribers — on March 18 about “The F Word:” feminism. The 25-year-old makes videos on her channel SEX+ about sex, body positivity, healthy relationships and gender. As part of her educational tour around North American colleges and universities, Green also talked about what schools can do to make their campuses more equal for all genders.
During her talk, Green said universities need to consider making programs such as bystander intervention mandatory for all students. She said she has been working with several Canadian universities on sexual assault issues.
Green said we need to open up conversations about sexual assault and consent as early as orientation week. But having these conversations may not be so easy.
“People kind of shy away from it. We need to make sure people are involved in the conversation,” Green said.
Ryerson is starting to have these conversations which may create change for its students. This year, the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) held two town hall discussions where students voiced what they want to see in the university’s revised sexual assault policy.
Heather Lane Vetere, vice-provost for students at Ryerson, previously told The Ryersonian that the university will make bystander intervention training mandatory for athletics staff and student athletes. The university is reviewing its sexual assault policy after a Toronto Star investigation found that most Canadian universities don’t have a special policy for sexual assault.
Green said the most important thing people in positions of power can do is to listen, but their responsibilities go beyond that.
“(They need) to create space so that people can talk about their experiences and can talk about how they’re experiencing the world differently — because they are.”
Green said feminism is an “important lens” on campuses to understand new ideas and information that students are exposed to.
However some Ryerson students feel that the university doesn’t have a strong feminist presence. Kristi Lemke, a third-year social work student who attended Green’s talk, said there is a strong feminist presence in Toronto, but not necessarily at Ryerson.
“The Centre for Women and Trans People is doing a lot [at Ryerson]. But I don’t think we have a strong following here, which is kind of unfortunate, but hopefully it will develop,” Lemke said.
Through her videos and educational talks, Green said she wants to continue making these positive spaces — whether online or on campuses — to get people talking.
“We are the future, so if we can start eradicating inequality now when you’re in school, I think that it will make institutions stronger and more equitable in the future.”
View the full live blog of Laci Green’s “The F Word” talk at Ryerson here.