Violence, Colonization, Reproduction and Campus Life

A few things to do with campus life have been on my mind. First of all, December 6th is coming up, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada, which was established in 1991 to mark the anniversary of the murders of 14 women in 1989 at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal who were murdered for being women. There will be memorial events at various campuses and by women’s groups around the country. Keep your eyes open and attend. I remember being told about the murders when I was a child and not understanding why women were shot for wanting to be engineers. Although I understand now I still find it hard to comprehend.

Second, and not unrelated, a Edmonton fraternity’s fundraiser was advertised this week on FB and twitter by what Aboriginal groups at U of A (and anyone else with a brain) have noted is a “deeply offensive” name. The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity titled its event, to be hosted at The Ranch Roadhouse next weekend, “Western Bros and Nava-hoes,” presumably thinking that it was “funny” to contribute to racist and colonial rape culture in this way. After protests by students and demands by The Ranch Roadhouse the fraternity (which already has no standing with the university) decided to change the name.

And finally, and again not unrelated, some students are angry because another university has refused to allow a pro-life group “student club” status, this time at Kwantelen University, which has campuses here in the lower mainland. I remember when I was at UVic many moons ago and a similar controversy erupted. The point then, as it is now, is that reproductive rights are fundamental to women’s collective and individual equality. Access to abortion free from harassment should be a right of women on campus. Deciding not to grant status to groups that harass women is no different than deciding not to grant status to groups that are homophobic or sexist, or that title their fundraisers with racist slurs.

I think that if you broaden your idea of reproductive rights to include the word justice that you can see all of these incidents are related. As discussed on Synergy here, access to abortion is not the only crucial issue facing women with regards to their reproductive health. For instance, the elimination of racist and colonial policies, anti-violence initiatives, and free and available health care are all related to reproduction; women must feel safe on campus from violence, rape and sexual harassment in all forms in order to be able to have equal rights, reproductive or otherwise.

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