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UOttawa student federation launches task force to combat rape culture

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) has launched a task force to fight rape culture on campus.

More than 50 students attended a town hall held by the federation Friday afternoon.

President Anne-Marie Roy, who was recently the victim of a sexually explicit online conversation between four male students, told CFRA it's really up to the students themselves to make a difference.

"In order for us to be effective in tackling rape culture on our campus, we need to have ideas that come from students and basically we want to hear what they think are going to be successful strategies in fighting rape culture on our campus," she said.

In Roy's case, four student leaders handed in their resignation over graphic sexual directed at Roy were made on Facebook.

She said although her case and that of the university's men's hockey team, which was suspended amidst an allegation of sexual assault in Thunder Bay, have been in the spotlight, they're not the only issues at the university.

"I don't think that it's good for us to be focusing on the incidents, because they're not isolated cases," she said. "There's a bigger problem on campus and in society and it's rape culture. I'd rather be talking to students about that and talking with them about tools and different ways that they can challenge rape culture when they see it on campus."

The move comes after the university's administration created its own task force in light of the recent allegations of sexual misconduct.

Students are convinced the SFUO's task force will have more of an impact than the working group created by the administration.

"The students are where it's going to stick because the administration doesn't run our frosh event, it's the students' associations," said Tanner Tallon, a first year student in the Telfer School of Management. "The administration doesn't run what people say in residence. It's the students who control that really, and it's students telling other students how what they're saying negatively affects other people. The students are what needs to do anything. The administration can only be supportive really."

Gabrielle, a second year masters degree student in social work agreed.

"I think because we live it every day and we're in it every day, in the trenches if you will, we're better able to maybe understand the problem from our perspective," she said. "Working together we'll be able to hopefully develop an action plan and something that will make sure that we eradicate [rape culture] from the campus."

The town hall held in the Jock Turcot University Centre included a panel discussion and then separate working groups, which were closed to the media.

A second town hall is expected to be held in April.

Thunder Bay Police were in Ottawa last week to interview member of the Gee Gees hockey team. Investigators said several chose not to speak to them - something that could slow their investigation into the alleged sexual assault which took place in that city over the February 1st weekend.

CTV has learned several of the players on the team have hired lawyers. No charges have been laid.

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