This poster will be going in the Ram in the Rye.

Photo courtesy: Michael Verticchio

Ram in the Rye works towards sexual violence prevention

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By Alanna Rizza

By Nov. 18, the Ram in the Rye will be placing posters around the pub asking customers to alert Ram staff if they feel uncomfortable on a date or if someone isn’t respecting their space.

The posters, which say things like, “Things getting weird? Let your server know” and “We are on your side,” will be placed in the main area of the pub and in the bathrooms according to Michael Verticchio, Student Campus Centre general manager. The posters were designed in October with input from Ram staff and Farrah Khan, coordinator of Ryerson’s Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education (OSVSE).

“I think it’s amazing that the Ram in the Rye is at the forefront of such an important issue,” wrote Verticchio in an email.

Ryerson Students’ Union vice president equity Tamara Jones said she thinks it’s great that posters are in the bathroom because it’s a private area that people usually go to when they’re trying to get out of a situation that could lead to sexual assault.

The Ram is also enforcing sexual violence prevention in their staff training sessions.

This past summer, Khan helped train Ram staff on how to identify and intervene in an instance of sexual violence.

“With [the] training program, we are hoping to foster an environment of respect among students and create a safe space on campus,” Verticchio wrote via email.

Jones said the training is necessary because people need to recognize the warning signs in order to prevent sexual assault.

“I’ve been a bartender and worked in the service industry and sometimes it can seem like it’s not in the job description to do that kind of prevention work—but it really really is.”

There were about 21,500 police-reported sexual assaults in 2015, according to Statistics Canada. But only 5 per cent of incidents of sexual assault experienced by Canadians aged 15 years and older are reported to police, according to the General Social Survey on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization).

On Nov. 8 Toronto city council adopted a motion proposed by Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. The motion requests that the province of Ontario add sexual assault prevention training to Smart Serve—the training that alcohol servers have to take in Ontario.

According to the motion, this initiative is a response to Toronto’s number of incidents of sexual assault being higher than the provincial and national average.

“[Universities] should encourage an unreserved dialogue between staff and students about open consent at the beginning and throughout the school year, in order to promote education and awareness on sexual violence,” Wong-Tam wrote in an email.

Verticchio said the Ram is looking to regularly update staff on trainings regarding sexual violence prevention.

“Having an ongoing conversation will be important to making the Ram in the Rye a safe place for everybody,” he said.

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