Quynn Oates’ job as the Education Don in Residence Life is to address topics that might make students feel uncomfortable.
Throughout November, the third-year Child and Youth Studies student has been raising awareness about sexual violence with the #ItCanHappenHere campaign.
“It is meant to educate students on sexual violence. We want them to be informed on how to respond because it happens beyond our campus, it can happen anywhere,” she says.
While one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, Oates stresses that it can happen to anyone at any time.
“This issue impacts everyone and we really try to highlight that. We focus on the intersectional aspects of sexual violence, incorporating different voices in the campaign. Ultimately, we want everyone to feel safe and to understand survivors, so we dedicate resources to informing students,” she says.
“Students have been very receptive to the messages and are providing positive feedback. It shows that we are all working together to reduce the stigma,” Oates says.
The University Human Rights and Equity office works closely with the Residence Life department, providing support to staff and students while working with core groups around campus about prevention, education and disclosure training.
“If anyone needs support, resources or someone to talk to, our doors are always open,” said Allison Cadwallader, Sexual Violence Response Coordinator.
Even after November comes to a close, Oates encourages students to continue the momentum in educating others.
“Get involved, make #ItCanHappenHere bigger and better. This issue is worldwide and if we can all be leaders in driving change, others will take notice and follow,” she says.
Find more information about the campaign on the #ItCanHappenHere Facebook page.