Katic: Three quick thoughts about the RCMP response to campus assaults

Sgt. Peter Thiessen spoke on behalf of the RCMP at the press conference. Photo Carter Brundage/The Ubyssey

Photo: Carter Brundage/The Ubyssey

1.

When there is a criminal on the loose, police use press conferences to give stern condemnations. They say things like: “enough is enough,” or we will do everything in our power to apprehend this suspect,” or “as a husband and a parent with four kids at home, I don’t get it...,” “let these criminals know that their activities will not be tolerated,” and so on. Except when it’s sexual assault. Then, all they can do is talk about lighting, whistles, and how big and how difficult their job is. 

Come on guys, where did all your intimidating strength go? You were so so tough when harassing poor people, assaulting indigenous women, and tazing confused foreigners. How could you let one lone predator make you look so weak?

I know I’m being a little glib, but honestly, the RCMP would actually make some allies of feminists if they went on TV and condemned sexual violence in the harshest possible terms.

I know; not easy, right? If it helps, imagine that this sexual predator is also an Islamic terrorist. Then you can say a bunch of neat things! “He hates our freedoms,” “we will not live in fear,” “we will get you, and we will bring to bear the full force of justice,” and all that other talk that gives law-and-order types half chubs.

2.

A lot of people have been saying that it is sensible for UBC and the RCMP to instruct people to not walk home alone, and that this does not constitute victim blaming. At first blush, that’s pretty sensible. If the RCMP took my first suggestion to heart and condemned the assailant in no uncertain terms, I bet they could probably get away with adding this advice. But when that advice is all you have, it doesn’t work.

3.

Wait, does it actually make sense to tell women to not walk home alone? Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine there was a predator around UBC exclusively targeting radio producers, or journalism students, or Croatians, or men. I’d be pretty scared. You wouldn’t have to tell me to not walk alone. Maybe this advice isn’t so helpful?

Beyond that, does it even make sense? On some level, wouldn’t we want more people spread out and walking around campus? If 90% of women walk in groups, that sparsely distributed 10% becomes much more vulnerable.

I don’t know, just a thought.

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Gordon Katic (@gordonkatic) has been student coordinator for the Terry Project for over two years, and in that time started BARtalk, and the Terry Project on CiTR 101.9FM. A former Ubyssey columnist, and now a student at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, Gordon is trying to use journalism to tell important stories about global issues.

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