[This is a re-posting of the announcement of an upcoming protest on 2 March 2017]
On Thursday 16 February 2017 three students on behalf of the Not Our Policy campaign were intimidated and threatened with arrest by two special constables from campus security while setting up a banner in front of the Carleton University sign. Throughout the month of February, students have been placing banners on the Carleton sign stating “Stop Sexual Violence, Not Our Policy” as part of a larger campaign to bring awareness to the need to reform Carleton’s sexual violence policy. This campaign includes an open letter and petition with recommendations to reform Carleton’s policy (https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/not-our-policy-open-letter-to-reform-carletons).
The two special constables interrupted the three students while they were putting up the banner and then split them up to question them, taking down information including names, phone numbers, student numbers and home addresses. They tried to pressure the students into providing the names of other individuals who have been involved in the campaign. They informed the students that they had been tracking their social media pages, specifically naming the “Not Our Policy” facebook page. They threatened these students with criminal charges of vandalism and mischief stating that if they continued to do banner drops they would be “in a lot of trouble”. These special constables went on to tell the three students to pass along the message to others involved in the banner drops that if this activism continued they would all be criminally charged. When the students began asking questions about their legal rights, they were told to be quiet, to put their phones away and to cooperate. The special constables did not detain these students.
First, we reject the claim that property was being vandalized at Carleton University. The banners are messages painted onto paper and tied around the Carleton sign with string, causing no damage to the property in any way. The threat of charges under vandalism have no merit and, we argue, are thinly veiled threats to intimidate all those involved in the campaign to reform Carleton’s sexual violence policy. We maintain that the purpose of the special constables’ interruption on Thursday was not to protect Carleton’s property, but rather to protect Carleton’s reputation.
Second, the response from security is an extension of the Carleton administration’s pattern of silencing dissent on campus. Rather than reaching out to stakeholders involved in the campaign to reform Carleton’s sexual violence policy, they have actively sought to exclude us from the process. We were barred from the Board of Governors meeting when they discussed and passed the sexual violence policy. Our calls for further reform to the policy once the final draft was sent out have been dismissed. Instead of reaching out to us to begin a dialogue over the continued shortcomings of the current sexual violence policy the administration continues to state they will not revisit the policy for three years, and now has members of campus security threatening to arrest students for dissenting through public awareness campaigns.
It is disturbing that Carleton University would threaten to arrest these three students, and everyone involved in the campaign, for putting up paper posters and banners. This is on top of being ignored by the administration, excluded from the Board of Governors meetings, and dismissed as “noisy people” by our university president in an e-mail to the Carleton community. We are concerned with the culture of fear and silence that is being created on our campus. It is evident that the Carleton administration is more concerned about protecting their public image than taking meaningful steps to support survivors of sexual violence.
As a campaign, we have decided not to allow these intimidation tactics by the Carleton administration stop our work to pursue reforms to our sexual violence policy. We have decided to organize a rally against threats to the Not Our Policy campaign at the Carleton sign on Thursday 2 March 2017 at 4:00 pm. More information can be found at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1756725177976973/. We invite all members of the university community to join us to tell the Carleton administration we will not be silenced and that we will continue our work until Carleton reforms their sexual violence policy to be truly survivor-centric.
The Not Our Policy campaign