OTTAWA (CUP) — Students at the University of Ottawa became the focus of nationwide debate about rape culture and Internet privacy after a sexually aggressive Facebook group chat about student federation president Anne-Marie Roy was posted online.
Roy has been the subject of support and scrutiny for her efforts to condemn the five students who participated in the conversation, four of whom were elected student officials at the the University of Ottawa, and to denounce “toxic” attitudes toward sexual violence on campus.
“The fact that the five men could so casually discuss and joke about me and the position students have elected me to hold in such sexually violent ways points to how normalized rape culture, misogyny, and sexism are on our campus and in our society,” she said in an official statement.
“This kind of behaviour has clear impacts on women,” she continued. “It creates an environment that is intimidating, threatening and toxic. Women on this campus and in our society deserve better.”
The incidents began Feb. 10, during the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) election campaign, when Roy received photos of the group chat from an anonymous third party. On that day, she also received an email apology from all five participants. After reading week, Roy presented the men’s comments to members of the federation’s Board of Administration (BOA) at its meeting on Feb. 23.
The conversation consisted of SFUO vice-president social Pat Marquis; BOA representative Alexandre Giroux; Alex Larochelle and Michel Fournier-Simard, who hold executive positions with federation-associate societies; and student Bart Tremblay, who holds no elected position.
Roy was given a cease and desist letter that listed the names of all but Marquis on the grounds that distributing the photos would be a violation of the men’s privacy. She was also informed that the four men were considering legal action.
Less than a week later, those photos were made public on the blog Bellejar.ca. The post includes screenshots with English translations, as about half the conversation takes place in French.
It begins with Tremblay, who writes that the “president will suck me off in her office chair and after I will fuck her in the ass on Pat’s desk.” He then clarifies that this is in reference to Roy.
“Someone punish her with their shaft,” says Larochelle.
The conversation turns to doubts about Roy’s city of origin, before Giroux remarks that “if you fuck Anne-Marie, I will definitely buy you a beer.” Marquis says he’ll “get a 24 for Bart if he does it.” The documented part of the conversation ends with two of the men debating whether Roy has a sexually transmitted infection.
All four student officials have since resigned from their positions, and the four who had threatened legal action no longer intend to do so.