Book: Critical Conversations about Sexual Violence on University Campuses: New Challenges, Novel Solutions

In recent years, Canadians have been confronted by stories of sexual harassment and violence on university campuses across the country. Our provincial governments have debated, and some have passed, legislation requiring universities to have sexual violence policies. Universities have developed prevention programs and worked to improve their response to complaints. Students and parents have worried about campus safety. Student organizations have lobbied.

Despite several highly publicized events triggering concern, research on sexual violence on Canadian university campuses remains underdeveloped. To help fill this gap, my colleagues and I are producing an edited collection to capture research efforts happening across the country.

Tentative Title: Critical Conversations about Sexual Violence on University Campuses: New Challenges, Novel Solutions

Editors: Diane Crocker, Joanne Minaker, Amanda Nelund

Offering to begin to bridge the gap between practice, theory and research, this edited collection will bring together researchers working in diverse disciplines, including sociology, psychology, education, business, and social justice studies. The chapters work from diverse feminist perspectives but share a commitment to thinking about sexual violence as a social problem that must be considered in an intersectional way. Together, the chapters aim to contribute empirically and theoretically to the ongoing national conversation around sexual violence in post-secondary institutions.

While some chapters draw on empirical data from their specific institutions, this book is not a collection of cases studies. Authors analyze large scale survey results, interview data from students and administrators, university policies and other forms of data to explore the broad trends and themes that animate the problem nationally. Indeed, one of our goals is to move away from hand-wringing and debate about specific incidents and campuses and open up the conversation.

This book argues, as outlined in the Introduction, that the dominant conversation around sexual violence on campus needs to become more complicated. To mirror that argument and to contribute to a critical complication of the issue, we have organized the chapters by intent rather than topic. We invite questions about how each chapter operates in the wider conversation on sexual violence. Novel solutions cluster together into the four headings we used to organize the book: Complicate, Intervene, Problematize, and Imagine. Organized this way, reader will read chapters in tamdem that would not normally be placed together. We hope this arrangement will complicate the conversation in the readers’ minds.  We hope that tensions and shared understandings are made more apparent. In the Introduction we identify these tensions and shared threads as well as direct readers to linkages between the sections. If sexual violence were a problem simply solved (or to be solved), then decades of feminist activism and research would have done so. Sexual violence is complicated and politically charged. Our aim with this collection is to argue that our discussions around sexual violence, and our responses to it, must be similarly complex.