A co-ed conversation delving into gender roles and sexual harassment took place at St. Andrew’s.
Girls from Trafalgar Castle School arrived on campus January 18 for the Let’s Talk conference, organized by the Prefects from both schools.
More than 50 students from each school aimed to bridge the apparent lapse in society's perception of these crucial issues, said SAC Head Prefect, Willem Grier.
After congregating in small groups at tables in Cole Hall, the students were given a few questions to prompt discussion:
1. How has being in a single-sex environment changed your perception of gender roles? How do you feel your school represents gender and how has it influenced your perception of yourself? Do you see any differences between what our schools teach?
2. How has media/social media influenced your perception of gender identity?
3. Categorizing words by first impressions with following questions: "As a group, what trends did you see? What words were hard or easy to categorize and why? How do you think your choices represent broader social beliefs?
4. How does clothing affect our perception of gender?
5. Do men have a different role to play than women in fighting sexual harassment? If so, how? If not, why not?
Prior to the conversations, Dave Stewart, Coordinator of Student Engagement and Well Being, reinforced that SAC is a safe place, and reminded the students to listen to each other and be respectful, even when there are disagreements.
“When we leave this place this afternoon, I hope we will all have grown,” he said.
It appears the discussion lead to learning and growth.
“Throughout our discussions, we were able to share our different perspectives on these pressing issues, and we feel as if the conversations that were held were very effective in understanding how the opposite gender thinks,” said Alexander Smith, a grade 12 student and Prefect.
Fellow Prefect, Ryan Sutherland-Pace, agreed the conference was beneficial to all participants.
“By understanding how we can effectively communicate with one another, we are given the opportunity to build stronger relationships with each other. Some feedback from students at both schools was overall positive, with students enjoying the opportunity to be able to engage in open discussions and to be able to voice their opinions in a safe environment,” he said.
Following the Let’s Talk portion, the students moved on to the social portion of the conference.
Ryan said the teens had fun playing Pictionary, singing karaoke, creating art, and, of course, eating snacks. The students also enjoyed a few laughs after their serious conversations.
“Events like this one that we held with Trafalgar are important because we are reinforcing and maintaining relationships with other schools and addressing serious problems that we otherwise would not be able to discuss,” Alexander said.
Now that the conversation has started, the students are looking forward to the next conference.