June 30, 2015
Contacts: Jude Ashburn and Carmella Farahbakhsh
Telephone: (902) 494-2432
We, the Staff and Board of South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre at Dalhousie University, are calling on Dalhousie University and the greater community to take action following the release of the highly anticipated report of the external Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism, and Homophobia in the faculty of Dentistry.
As a feminist resource centre, South House exists to provide a safer space for survivors, women, trans people, and people dealing with oppression on the basis of sexuality and gender. It is encouraging to see that the findings of this report support our goals of working to end systemic oppression on our campus.
The report emphasizes the importance of systemic change and brings forward 39 recommendations. President Richard Florizone has said that Dalhousie University will be officially adopting all recommendations of the Task Force, which is promising, considering the report calls for concrete actions that go beyond token policy reform.
We are pleased to see that the Task Force recognizes the hard work of the students and community in naming and confronting issues of sexualized violence, racism and sexism — which before today, the Dalhousie Administration had yet to formally acknowledge. This is an immediate safety concern. We want to recognize all of the strong women, non-binary, and trans people that have shaped this decision and continue to care for their communities and hold this university accountable.
We want to work with the administration to address rape culture on campus, and we want to be included in all future conversations that affect student safety. We want to encourage Dalhousie to start utilizing their resources such as student societies, community involvement, and faculty members. Dalhousie University is required to provide a safe space to study and work, and this report has highlighted a blatant disregard in upholding this. However, this report forces Dalhousie out of their comfort zone, and the time to take action is past due.
Our collective community resistance has garnered national attention. Dalhousie’s actions have and continue to, speak louder than their words – it is in our interest and wellbeing as a community organization to hold the institution to their word. As the report recommends “…The University should draw on the existing internal expertise of organizations such as South House… Additional resources should be provided to increase the capacity of all of these organizations” (pg. 86). At this time, South House is asking Dalhousie to consider the need for tangible resources, funding, support, visibility, and acknowledgement of the students, societies, and community groups who have and continue to mobilize against sexualized violence.
We would like to echo the Dalhousie Student Union’s statement in the call for an Ombudsperson with a serious commitment to anonymous disclosure of sexualized violence and harassment. We would also like to thank our campus community for trusting us to do this work, and for accessing our space when Dalhousie broke student trust. Dalhousie cannot dodge responsibility any longer, and has an obligation to take systemic misogyny seriously.
We sincerely hope that this report acts as a catalyst and a call to action. The Dalhousie community needs to hold the University accountable to the report’s recommendations. This report is important, and this report validates our frustration and anger. We won’t let up.