By: Abi Sudharshan
CW: Discussions of sexual violence
On March 7, the YWCA Hamilton hosted the 43rd annual Women of Distinction Awards dinner. These awards recognize the achievements of women in the Hamilton community. From business to education, the night celebrates exemplary leadership by women in an effort to inspire other women.
One of the most watched award categories is that of the “Young Woman of Distinction,” which celebrates a woman between 18 and 25 who has demonstrated passionate and committed stewardship of a cause in her school, community or workplace.
This year’s winner is fourth year McMaster social work student Maddie Brockbank.
Over the course of the last few years, Brockbank has spearheaded projects addressing the issue of sexual violence prevention, specifically by directing efforts to establish meaningful male allyship.
On March 15, the Silhouette sat down with Brockbank to discuss these initiatives.
I would say that I am very hard working. I really value hard work and my parents have taught me to value it. I’m pretty passionate about the work that I do with sexual violence. I’m also pretty honest about my outlook on issues on campus.
I didn’t hear the word “consent” until I was in university. I went to a Catholic high school, and though I overheard troubling conversations in the halls, they were never addressed.
There’s a bit of a story to it. In my second year of university, I applied for and received an undergraduate student research award in experiential education. Through that, I found out that women currently bear most of the weight in discussions regarding sexual violence, which does not at all reflect the situation. So, over that summer, I interviewed seven guys from a couple of different universities, and asked them questions about consent, sexual violence, and treatment of victims. I found that there were extremely large gaps in their knowledge.
It was concerning, but it was also promising as they all talked about how they had never been asked these questions before and how they had never thought about these conversations before. There was willingness on the other end and it became a matter of engaging them.
Yes, I did get the Clarke Prize grant in March of last year. Ryan Clarke is an alumni who donates $6,000 every year to fund initiatives addressing issues in the community. First prize wins $3,000, second wins $2,000 and third wins $1,000. Most campaigns that address sexual violence have a very general approach to them.
From my research, I found that young men wanted to join the conversation. So, I created an event to educate young men: Commit(men)t and Allyship. Although the event was independent, we did collaborate with individuals and organizations within the community, such as Meaghan Ross, the university’s sexual violence response coordinator, the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and the McMaster Students Union Women and Gender Equity Network. McMaster Athletics had expressed interest, but they didn’t show up.
It was extremely disappointing. However, 10 Mohawk athletes did attend. Tristan Abbott, facilitator of the WiseGuyz program in Calgary, attended as well. We donated $2,700 to SACHA and the remaining funds from the Clarke grant to others like the male allies of Waterloo who facilitated our debriefing spaces.
Well, the sexual assault policy at McMaster is relatively new, and thus yet to be evaluated in terms of efficacy. In general, however, universities need to address that there is a rape culture on campus and that it is a prevalent problem. There needs to be more support for survivors, to shift the response from interrogation to believing them. Perpetrators need to feel the consequences of their actions and need to be barred from positions of power within the Student Representative Assembly, MSU and other student governing bodies.
Surprising and really amazing. There were so many incredible candidates. I think it just speaks to the merit in the work that I’ve done. It’s affirmation that the work is important and needs to be done.
I am continuing my studies at McMaster in the Masters of Social Work for fall 2019. I am also continuing my research and doing my thesis on male student perspectives of sexual violence. I recently received the McMaster graduate scholarship as well, so I'm stoked!
By: Drew Simpson
Over a month of Hamilton Youth Poet’s Black Poet Residency has passed. So far, the residency has taken place at the Art Gallery of Hamilton every Saturday and the weekly residency will continue until May.
HYP is an arts organization that launched in October 2012. The organization’s four main goals are to manifest a community of cultural understanding, offer youth tools to deliver their writing and literary skill, engage youth towards their academic ambitions and to support aspiring artists’ professional development.
Ultimately, HYP empowers young people by offering training as arts organizers and allowing youth to take part in the planning, promotion and facilitation of events. One of these events is the Black Poet Residency featuring Ian Keteku, a two-time national slam champion and multimedia artist, as a key facilitator.
Although both the organization and event have poets within its name, participants may be beyond the scope of experienced poets. Those who wish to develop their writing skills, editing, computer literacy and even multi-digital processes will benefit from the residency.
“Those interested need not regard themselves as poets or require any prior knowledge of poetry. The residency aims to transcend simply writing poems,” explains one of HYP’s teaching artists, Akintoye Asalu.
This residency is in line with HYP’s focus on youth-focused events coordinated by youths, as it is aimed towards youth writers, performers and creative-minded individuals. As mentioned by Asalu, anyone who is interested in bettering their skills is welcome to attend.
“When our young people can tell and re-tell their histories in the context of public platforms, they are able to imagine and re-imagine their individual and collective identities and become culturally grounded in their own experiences,” explains HYP’s website.
The residency aims to provide an inclusive and supportive space which allows black youth to express their experiences and explore their voices. Such a weekly residency is necessary in Hamilton, to amplify often-silenced voices while also developing skills and building community. Asalu can attribute the prosperity of this residency as a participant himself.
“Being able to sit down and converse with people who understand the struggles that come with being a [person of colour] motivates me to keep using my art to help our community in as many ways as I can… My only hope is that the healthy dialogue that exists within the residency will spread to the rest of the community,” explains Asalu.
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Poetry and art directly combat the sense of isolation people of colour experience on a daily basis. Especially as they face daily experiences with institutions that were built without them in mind.
Asalu describes how poetry allows him to be the voice for those cast in silence; bringing light to silenced struggles. He also finds poetry as a healthy coping mechanism. Every HYP event puts youth at the center. Therefore, a Black-focused residency, puts Black youth at the center; a position that may be unfamiliar to them.
“I want Black people all around the city to feel comfortable talking about the things they go through on a day-to-day basis without fear of judgment from those around them. It is my belief that in order to enact change, we must first begin with constructive dialogue. Through this dialogue, constructive actions can be taken to improve the quality of life for [people of colour] as a whole,” explains Asalu.
This residency can be the defining moment for many Black youths in Hamilton. Raising their voices, attending to their mental health and finding support in community are never-ending obstacles for black youth. The ability to express struggles and unbox silenced concerns while doing so is a grand goal that when realized makes a positive difference in a young person’s life.
By: Coby Zucker
Looking at the McMaster men’s basketball roster, the word “young” comes to mind, as nine of the 16 players on this year’s squad are rookies. With the addition of third-years Damiann Prehay and Yaw Antwi-Boasiako, and the return of Connor Gilmore, only four current players were on the roster last year.
Despite solid contributions from core veterans Matt Quiring and David McCulloch, this drastically different roster makes it is easy to see how top contenders might overlook the team. Even still, despite the youthful lineup, the Marauders are not interested in taking the path of least resistance and slapping the “growth” and “rebuilding” tags on the season.
🏀 FINAL: McCulloch's 23 points leads the way, as @MacMensBball pulls away in the fourth quarter to record the 97-80 win over Guelph!
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 12, 2019
“Yeah, I know that there’s a lot of first-years,” said junior forward, Kwasi Adu-Poku. “But at the same time, I’m feeling like this is a really good chance for us to do something big. We wouldn’t really see it as a growth year because [head coach Patrick Tatham] brought in a lot of people who are ready to work, ready to go hard, already have a good idea of how to play and everything.”
Coach Tatham’s confidence in his rookies certainly shows. Freshman guards Tristan Lindo, Sefa Otchere and Jordan Henry are averaging 26.1, 20.3 and 25.6 minutes per game respectively, accounting for 28.2 points per game together.
The confidence is paying off, and the rookies are looking to keep up the trust and continue to earn the right to lengthy minutes in their first season of university-level play.
“[Coach Tatham] expects me to be more aggressive, play with confidence, be solid defensively and offensively, and just play with a lot of heart and effort,” said Otchere.
For Otchere, despite his solid numbers in the first half of the season, the adjustment to university ball has taken time.
“You want to do a lot of things because you’re not used to this level yet,” Otchere added. “But just trying to more composed, more relaxed, just understanding you don’t need to rush, everything will just come to me on the court.”
The amount of inexperience within the Marauder’s system has also catapulted the few returning players into leadership positions. Adu-Poku, only in his third year, is already finding himself in the veteran role.
“It’s a bit weird to process at times,” said Adu-Poku, “because I still feel like I’m pretty young myself. When I come into practice and see a lot of first-year guys kind of eager to learn, I realize I could at least give them a bit of mentorship in that respect. So I’m realizing that I’m more of a leader than I think I am.”
Adu-Poku was also quick to stress that leadership spots are not just doled out to the players who have been in the system the longest.
“I think with [coach Tatham’s] culture right now… I think he’s just really trying to show that anyone can be a leader in the sense that, if you’re willing to step up and fit the idea of what he wants to get done and just do what you do best, he’ll use you as someone that people could get advice from,” Adu-Poku explained.
In all, there is a pervasive sense that this Marauders squad, containing the few core veterans supported by a cast of motivated rookies, are still more than capable of putting together a strong campaign.
While the dominant Carleton University and Ryerson University teams might still be out of reach for the time being, the Marauders continue to gain university-level experience and build chemistry. Only getting better, the Mac men will look to continue to prove they are capable of knocking down teams previously thought to be well beyond striking distance as the season progresses.