It’s been years, decades really, since I graduated from university. I was a girl from a small town. Very naive. I went to Carleton University in Ottawa and stayed in residence. It was an eye opener to see how other young women my age lived. They seemed so sophisticated, so mature. They were also much more aware of danger than I.
One of our first meetings in residence included a warning about walking the tunnels alone late at night. Ottawa in winter is not someplace you want to walk outside if you can help it. The temperatures can fall to minus 30. So a lot of us, especially if you’re kind of vain and don’t want to get all bundled up, would take the tunnels that linked the study halls and libraries and admin buildings and classrooms to the residences. They were concrete and gloomy even on the brightest of days. They were also a place where a number of young women were raped. I remember walking home in a tunnel from one of my few evening classes and getting that tingling sensation at the back of my neck that indicated danger. I took off, running like an idiot, until I reached my residence. It might have been nothing. Or, it might have been something. Or someone.
That’s why Lady Gaga’s video about the epidemic of on-campus rape hit such a nerve.
Nothing has changed. All these years of working together, trying to understand one another, and this is still a problem. It makes me so sad. I wonder what can be done. I do not have any answers.
Some of the proceeds from “Til It Happens To You” will be donated to survivors of sexual assault. Join the conversation.