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AMS and Queen’s mark Sexual Violence Awareness Week with 'Unfounded' talk

Robyn Doolittle, Globe & Mail reporter and author of a series of articles about how police handle sexual assault cases, visited Queen’s as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

Robyn Doolittle presents as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week. (Photo by Iain Sherriff-Scott)

A group of students attended a talk from an award-winning journalist earlier this week as part of Sexual Violence Awareness Week. Robyn Doolittle of The Globe & Mail walked the students through her investigation into how police have responded to, and in some cases dismissed, allegations of sexual assault.

The “Unfounded” series in the national newspaper was the culmination of a 20-month exploration of the sexual assault cases categorized by police forces across the country as 'unfounded'. The series sparked a national conversation on what it can mean be a survivor or victim of sexual violence in the justice system and how our institutions engage with a culture of sexual violence.

“I think Robyn’s keynote allowed us such an interesting and new insight into what it is like to be a survivor in the law enforcement system,” says Ramna Safeer, the Alma Mater Society’s Social Issues Coordinato. “Her talk was a foot in the door of nuanced conversations of the complex, multifaceted experiences of survivors and the systemic issue of sexual violence.”

Sexual Violence Awareness Week is a survivor-centric glimpse at the important sexual violence prevention and education that happens on campuses like Queen’s. Ms. Safeer, the Alma Mater Society’s Social Issues Coordinator, says she hopes this week, and this presentation, contribute to a more survivor-centric approach to this work.

The event was well received by attendees. PhD candidate Morgan Oddie attended the talk and said she was pleased to see changes in the way police approach sexual assault which came about as a result of Ms. Doolittle’s reporting.

The presentation was hosted by the Bystander Intervention Training Program, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Coordinator Barbara Lotan, and the AMS’ Mental Health Awareness Committee (MHAC).

To read the first story in Ms. Doolittle’s series, visit The Globe & Mail’s website.