Days after an inflammatory message was written on the window of an Epworth Ave. student rental, a Western University official has condemned the phrase, which she says “is a form of sexual violence.”
The message, which said “No means yes and yes means anal”–a phrase that has attracted controversy following usage by a number of fraternities–quickly attracted the ire of London women’s advocate Megan Walker, who also chastised Western officials for the school’s slow response time, as well as a comment to the London Free Press by Western’s housing mediation officer that the incident could be chalked up to students doing “dumb things.”
“To be clear, sexual violence is not tolerated at Western. The message written on that window, which included the statement ‘No means Yes’, is a form of sexual violence,” said Jana Luker, Western University’s associate vice-president of student experience, in a statement posted on the institution’s website Monday afternoon. “Its existence threatened the safety and security of our campus and wider community.”
Luker said that Western “takes full responsibility for not responding to the incident adequately,” saying that Western’s and London’s police departments, and Western’s sexual violence prevention coordinator should have been deployed.
She also relayed an apology from the housing mediation officer, Glenn Matthews, who Luker said “is not positioned to represent the views of, or speak on behalf of, the (university) on matters relating to sexual violence.”
“The statement scrawled on the Epworth Avenue address is disgusting and there is no excuse for those words being posted. They have no place in our community, or anywhere. None of these outcomes were my intent and I am sorry my words caused harm or distress to anyone,” Matthews said.
To reinforce that Western takes the issue seriously, Luker pointed to sexual violence awareness and education initiatives–both recent and ongoing–as well as a sexual violence prevention and education program for staff and faculty that is expected to launch next year.
“Sadly, we continue to live in a culture that often trivializes sexual violence and blames survivors,” Luker said. “This incident serves to reinforce the responsibilities each and every one of us must adopt regarding sexual violence as we work toward shifting that culture to one where consent is the norm.”