Stories from March 18-22: sexual assault at McMaster, white supremacy, mental health, climate change, student protest

Cassidy Bereskin
March 27, 2019
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes
Photo C/O Kyle West

Here’s a look at five major provincial, Hamilton and McMaster stories that hit the newscycle last week.


1. Provincial government releases sexual assault survey results

After falling under scrutiny this winter for not releasing the results of the Ontario-wide Student Voices on Sexual Violence survey, the Ontario government finally published the report in full.

The survey, which was sent out last year, asked students to outline their experiences with sexual violence at their post-secondary institution.

The results of the survey, released on March 19, also describe the experiences of sexual assault and violence McMaster students have had while completing their degrees. Here are some of the report’s key findings:

    • According to the report, 63.7 per cent of McMaster students disclosed at least one experience of sexual harassment.
    • 21.1 per cent disclosed at least one stalking experience.
    • 22.0 per cent disclosed at least one non-consensual sexual experience.
    • 58.7 per cent of students indicated they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the university’s institutional response to sexual violence.
    • 31.4 per cent of respondents witnessed sexual violence, but did not intervene.
    • 60.9 per cent “disagree’ or “strongly disagree” with the statement that they have knowledge about McMaster’s sexual violence supports, services and reporting procedures.

More information about the results of the survey, including McMaster University and McMaster Students Union’s response to them, will be included in the Silhouette’s April 4 issue.


2. New study suggests ‘clear relationship” between mental health and precarious employment

A new McMaster-affiliated study underscores the strong link between precarious employment and mental health, offering a snapshot into the mental health of precariously employed millennials in Hamilton.

The comprehensive 103-page study reveals the results of the 89-question online Hamilton Millennial Survey, which surveyed nearly 1,200 employed millennials living in Hamilton last year.

    • According to the study, only 44 per cent of millennials have been able to secure full-time employment in Hamilton.
    • One in four Hamilton millennials reported their health was either “poor” or “fair.”
    • About 50 per cent of millennials in precarious employment noted being depressed often.
    • Female-identifying millennials are 30 per cent more likely than their male-identifying counterparts to report being depressed because of work.
    • “The high levels of poorer mental health, depression and anger among millennials should be viewed as a red flag warning as they pose serious consequences for the millennial generation’s future,” reads part of the report.


3. Hamilton-based white supremacist Paul Fromm under investigation for ties to New Zealand manifesto

Following the massacre of 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Hamilton Police Services launched an investigation into Paul Fromm, a Hamilton-based white supremacist. Fromm recently ran for mayor in the 2017 municipal election and received 706 votes.

  • Fromm is under investigation for his affiliation with the Canadian Association for Free Expression, a far-right website that re-posted the published white supremacist manifesto attributed to the perpetrator of the New Zealand terror attack.
  • HPS is specifically investigating whether or not Fromm’s re-posting constitutes a hate crime under the ‘wilful promotion of hatred’ statue in Canadian Criminal Code.


4. Hamilton declares state of climate change emergency

As part of a global push to confront climate change, Hamilton has joined hundreds of other municipalities, voting to declare a climate emergency last Monday.

    • The first to champion the cause in front of city council, Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann brought forward an amendment of a Climate Change Task Force motion to formally declare a climate change emergency in Hamilton.
    • The amendment characterizes climate change as an existential crisis.
    • It also asks city council to launch a multi-departmental task force in hopes of smoothing the path to net zero carbon emissions, which council projects to be reality by 2050.
    • Nann, Matthew Green, former Ward 3 Councillor and community activist Sarah Jama will also be meeting on April 2 to discuss the implications of a Green New Deal in Hamilton.

5. McMaster students call for sweeping changes to education

On March 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., students marched through the McMaster University Student Centre and protested outside of the building’s courtyard, demanding radical changes to the post-secondary education system.

The protest was part of the Red Spring campaign and launched by the Revolutionary Student Movement, an anti-capitalist organization on campus.

Some of the demands of the protest include:

    • ‘Education in service of the people, not for profit’ and universal access to education
    • Abolishing tuition and debt cancellation at all levels of education
    • Barrier-free education for Indigenous students and a bolstered ‘anti-colonial’ approach to education
    • The democratization of post-secondary institutions’ boards and committees
    • Dismantling unpaid internship programs
    • “Be sure not to water down our politics. We’re fighting for radical, revolutionary change. We’re not just fighting for better [Ontario Student Assistance Program], we’re fighting for free tuition, for systemic, institutional changes in the way our post-secondary schools operate,” said Zainab Khan, one of the organizers of the protest.

While there are no definitive plans for another protest, Khan notes that the campaign will not end anytime soon.


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