Is there such a thing as “rape culture” on campuses in Canada?

McGill professor awarded $2.5 million to address sexual violence on university campuses across Canada and internationally
Published: 21 October 2016

Who are the key players and actors on the issue of sexual violence on university campuses across Canada and internationally?

Shaheen Shariff, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Education, Director of Define the Line Projects at McGill University has been awarded a $2.5 million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Partnership Grant to address sexual violence on university campuses across Canada and internationally.

“Our project will engage law, arts and media sector partners (including Facebook), academics and collaborators to propel universities into reclaiming their central role of research and education (as it relates to deeply embedded intersecting forms of misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and related forms of discrimination – often described as “rape culture”)”, says Shariff, who is also an Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law’s Center for Internet and Society.

“The new media environment makes sexual misconduct disclosures more visible,” says Sylvain Lafrance, a co-investigator on the project.  “These issues blur the boundaries between freedom of expression, privacy, security and protection of reputations. The medias are at the forefront of these issues and should reflect upon their responsibilities to ensure a fair balance between information and informed public debate,” adds Lafrance, who is also an adjunct professor and director of Pôle Médias of HEC Montréal.

"This project and the remarkable partnership of 9 universities, 14 community partners, 24 academics and 13 collaborators will engage the most comprehensive effort to date to change the culture and practices of sexual violence on Canadian university campuses”, says Stuart R. Poyntz, President, Association for Research in Cultures of Young People (ARCYP), Associate Dean, FCAT and Associate Professor, School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. “Through these efforts we aim to shift the work of policy makers, university administrations and others who have the power to make our campuses and communities safer and more responsive to the needs of all”.

The project is for a term of seven years (2016 to 2023) and will examine:

Role of universities (policies, law and educational responses)
Role and influence of Arts and Popular Culture
Role and influence of News Media and Social Media

“The project and its partnered research, sustainable evidence-based policies, practices and curriculum will infuse the voices of the students and university communities, as facilitated by the partnership of 10 universities, 14 community partners, 24 academics and 13 collaborators,” adds Shariff.


For more about the project:

More about Prof. Shariff:

Back to top