Every year, hundreds of students gather at UBC Okanagan for Frosh, a one-night concert filled with mosh pits, a beer garden, and lots of dancing. Beyond the dancing and alcohol, however, Frosh is also filled with a high prevalence of sexual harassment and assault.
A recent UBCO Confessions post reads: “every guy at frosh tonight was lowkey rape-ish…”.
Many students here at UBCO agree that there is a high prevalence of sexual harassment and assault at Frosh. According to one, who remains anonymous, “There are just too many people, and you don’t know what they’re going to do… Even though I want to have a good time, it’s not possible, since I have to be cautious and pay attention to my surrounding”.
Another student admits she was harassed at Frosh by someone she considered a friend and has not attended since. This same student believes that, although there are safe spaces at Frosh such as the SVPRO tent, the event itself is not safe.
Taylor Dotto, VP Services, commented on the issue: “At UBCO, the number of reports of assault during large-scale events such as Frosh is down exponentially. We’ve come a long way from our first outdoor concert. I know however that the term FROSH comes with negative connotations around it dating back many years.”
Dotto goes on to say that she believes part of working towards change should include changing the name. She also emphasizes that SUP and the SUO try to invite groups such as Red Frogs, SARA, SVPRO, and EFRT so that they can “ensure all patrons are in a safe space”.
In response to being asked about what goals she has regarding sexual harassment as events like Frosh, she stated, “I just hope the next VP Services will have the same goals in mind- that these are serious issues and we can no longer be reactive about them. During my term, I will ensure all our events are considered a safe space for all attendees.”
While the SVPRO, SARA, and the other organizations invited by Dotto are there for students in case of harassment or assault, we should be working towards an event that everyone feels safe at.
The first step is education, and we have several groups on campus dedicated to this initiative. The second step is more difficult, however: we need a culture shift. This means understanding the value and necessity of consent, the importance of believing the victim, and holding ourselves and our peers responsible for all inappropriate actions they may have initiated.
Frosh is supposed to be a fun concert for students who want to let go and meet new people at the beginning of the year. Instead, its turned into a medley of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment, making all individuals feel unsafe, and it is our responsibility to change this. In Dotto’s words; “We want all victims of sexual assault to know that first and foremost we believe you. Rape culture in university is prevalent and I feel we’re taking steps to change that every day.”