October 18, 2016 - 10:59 AM
OTTAWA - An event that reportedly saw students at the University of Ottawa encouraged to perform lewd acts in exchange for points has been cancelled indefinitely as organizers apologized to anyone who was "negatively affected" by the experience.
The school's Science Students' Association, which hosted the so-called Vet's Tour earlier this month, called the event "ill-conceived" and "wrong," adding it "unconditionally condemns" any actions, attitudes and discourse that contribute to, promote or normalize sexual violence and rape culture on campus.
The university itself also denounced the event, in which it said some students were "encouraged to behave disgracefully," and said the incident is a reminder that sexual violence is a societal problem.
The statement from the university came after its French-language student newspaper published a report on a pub crawl where students were allegedly encouraged rack up points by carrying out a list of activities, such as taking off their clothes and having sex with event judges.
The newspaper reported that the event has been a tradition for many years and many participants are involved in student politics.
It also quoted a past participant who said she signed up thinking it was just a regular pub crawl only to find herself pressured to take off her clothes and be groped by a teammate.
A source reportedly told the paper the event's slogan has long been "It's not peer pressure, it's just your turn."
The Science Students' Association apologized to anyone who "felt unsafe or pressured to do anything at any of our events."
"The SSA takes many precautions and actively works to promote positive and inclusive spaces while ensuring that activities that take place during our events are of consensual and non-violent natures. However, we realize that regardless of the precautions taken, certain events present the risk for sexual violence or harassment to occur," it said.
The group urged anyone who felt they had experienced sexual harassment or violence to come forward and take advantage of the university's resources.
The university, meanwhile, called on the campus community to help change what it called "such disgraceful behaviour" and stressed it has policies in place to prevent sexual violence.
When asked Tuesday whether the administration would conduct an investigation into the event, a spokeswoman said she would not comment beyond the official statement.
Sexual violence has been a hot topic at the school, where a sexual assault investigation led to a two-year suspension of the varsity hockey program.
The team returned to the ice this fall after being put on hold for the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons.
Following the initial suspension of the team, the school launched an internal investigation and said it would implement new behaviour guidelines.
The results of the university's internal investigation into the team were not made public two years ago.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016