CARSA member suspended after swearing at sexual harassers

Campus News

A CARSA member has been suspended from CARSA for one month after being told by staffers at the gym that she had violated CARSA’s behavioural policy by swearing at gym goers the member says were leering at her.

Photo by Myles Sauer, photo contributor
Photo by Myles Sauer, photo contributor

The decision comes after several meetings between the member, a UVic alumna who wishes to be referred to by her first name Sierra, and CARSA, in which both parties discussed the reporting and prevention of sexual harassment at the gym.

CARSA’s current policy regarding sexual harassment in the gym requires victims to call Campus Security. However, Sierra told both the Martlet and CARSA that her harassers had already left the location by the time that Campus Security would arrive to the gym.

As a daily CARSA visitor and member of the gym, Sierra became frustrated with the repeated sexual harassment, and as a result began to take matters into her own hands by telling the leering men to “fuck off”.

Sierra says she has reported numerous acts of sexual harassment to gym staff with concerns of her safety and comfort, to which the staff members have attributed the assailing member’s  behaviour to “gym culture,” as reported in our previous Martlet article.

Since then, Sierra and Daphne Shaed from the Third Space Collective have repeatedly met with Michelle Peterson, CARSA’s Associate Director of Finance and Operations, to work out a solution for this ongoing issue.

Sierra says that despite many suggestions, from members being required to sign behavioural consent forms at the time of membership purchase to staff retraining, CARSA has denied every solution.

“Things never got any better, and instead I felt like staff was using Security to intimidate me,” said Sierra via email.

When reached for comment, Peterson said B.C.’s privacy laws meant she wasn’t able to disclose information about the suspension, but emphasized UVic’s commitment to a “safe, inclusive, and healthy environment.”

“Having said that,” Peterson continued, “we expect people in their comments and their conduct and their behaviour to respect one another as a fundamental value.”

CARSA management also informed Sierra that her use of a cell phone camera in the gym was another factor in their decision. Sierra says CARSA is referring to the time she took two selfies before being told she wasn’t allowed to take photos in the gym.

“Michelle [Peterson] has used this as a tactic to make me seem like I did something horribly wrong. I simply feel targeted because I see what is going on,” said Sierra.

CARSA will refund Sierra the 20 dollar fee she would have paid for that month-long period (as per the Vikes for Life monthly fee), though the complainant has yet to receive their refund at the time of writing.

Sierra will be allowed back at CARSA, but only after proving she will comply with CARSA’s behavioural policy in another meeting with Peterson.

A correction has been made in this article regarding referring to Sierra as a student at UVic; she is an alumna. We sincerely regret the error.