Carleton University is bringing in a former CFL player to work with its varsity athletes on a program to encourage all members of the university community to intervene in cases of sexual harassment and violence.
Former B.C. Lions player J.R. LaRose is coming from Vancouver for three days of sessions, building on his work with B.C.'s Be More Than a Bystander campaign.
Bailey Reid, the university's sexual assault support coordinator, will also be leading the workshop. She said one of the goals is getting past stereotypes about some athletes.
"Sometimes they are the subject of controversy, but we wanted to say 'You're not the problem, you're the solution. So how do we create something that you will listen to? Tell us what you need to know.'"
The sessions will open with definitions of consent and gender and move into a more open discussion that may become the basis for campus-wide training afterward.
"We do this training every year for all these athletes, but what we haven't been able to do is create a space for conversation. That's what the goal of this is," Reid said.
"We're hoping that the athletes who participate are then able to think about what they can do in the community."
Reid said the university is starting with varsity athletes because they're recognized leaders.
She said Carleton's men's soccer coach Kwesi Loney raised the need for a place to have a more open conversation rather than having information downloaded on them.
Breaking down assumptions
LaRose said the discussion in the program won't be limited to athletics, though he will be drawing on his experience in professional football to address thinking about consent.
"It's something that I think runs rampant; not just on sports teams, throughout the campus, all over the world," he said.
LaRose said he was brought up with assumptions about how buying a woman a drink at the bar meant the green light for something after the bar — assumptions that he said don't make sense with his present understanding of consent.
He's encouraging people to step in when those kinds of false assumptions get shared, when they see teammates or friends step out of line.
"A lot of the time people will see something, but are usually waiting for somebody else to get involved."