Acadia athletes tackle issues of respect and inclusivity

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WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Acadia student-athletes are teaming up with sociology students to challenge their counterparts across Canada to become more educated about inclusivity, breaking down stereotypes, and healthy sexuality.

“Our student-athletes are standing up and sending a strong message to others about the importance of respect for others,” says Acadia’s Varsity Athletics Director Kevin Dickie. “Varsity athletes are leaders in our community and recent research provides them with insights about their role when it comes to healthy understanding of sexuality, inclusivity, and consent. We want other varsity athletes across Canada to rise to the challenge and help us spread a positive message.”

The kNOw MORE Challenge officially kicked off September 7 during varsity athlete orientation. It is the second phase of an online and on-campus awareness campaign that started following a third-year sociology class project in research methodology led by Dr. Zelda Abramson.

“Students conducted research into the complexity of the hookup culture and they received an overwhelming response from students to the survey, making it the largest study of its kind in Canada,” explains Abramson.

“What followed was concern and a desire by the class to share the results of the study and to ask students at Acadia to tell us what they wanted to ‘KNOW MORE’ about as it related to sexuality and consent and what behaviours and attitudes that they wanted to see stopped, or happening ‘NO MORE,’” she explains.

Themes that have been generated by students include phrases such as “NO MORE gender expectations,” “NO MORE thinking it was okay,” and “KNOW MORE about what consent truly means.”

This September, the sociology students wanted to expand the reach of their awareness campaign and they looked to Acadia’s 300 student-athletes to help them.

“The kNOw MORE Challenge involves varsity athletes because our data suggests that student-athletes often feel more pressure than non-athletes to participate in the hookup culture,” explains Vicki Archer, a fourth-year Acadia student with a double major in sociology and biology. “Student-athletes are also looked up to, so we thought it was important to educate them, and for them to share their new knowledge with others.”

During the kNOw MORE Challenge Acadia’s student-athletes will be sharing information, videos, and thoughts, and asking student-athletes across Canada to help spread the message in their own way.

“The campaign is meant to start a dialogue and reduce confusion around sexual consent,” explains Alexandre Dodier, who has a major in sociology and a minor in computer science. He is also a member of Acadia’s football team. “We are leaders on the field and we can be leaders off the field and help bring people toward equity and respect for each other.”