The Carleton University Graduate Student’s Association (GSA) was disappointed to learn this week that the Carleton University Student’s Association (CUSA) was bringing musician Rick Ross to the annual student-funded concert Pandamonium.

The GSA joins with many campus and community members, including the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), in opposing CUSA’s choice of performer. Ross is known for not only minimizing but also encouraging the trauma and violence associated with drug-facilitated sexual assault. Minimizing the effects and reality of drug-facilitated sexual assault feeds into rape culture and sends the wrong message at a time when the Carleton community is working to come together and address sexual violence. The 2001 Survey of Unwanted Sexual Experiences among University of Alberta Students found that almost half of the sexual assaults young adults experienced were drug-facilitated. This is why the No Means No campaign, developed by the Canadian Federation of Students in the 1990s, is actively promoted at Carleton by the GSA, the Carleton University Academic Staff Association, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, and Locals 4600 and 2424 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The No Means No campaign continues to be one of the many effective tools in combating sexual violence on campuses across Canada.

While CUSA has now released a statement to ‘clarify its involvement’ in the concert, the statement fails to adequately address both the concerns raised by students and the dismissive comments already made by CUSA executive members. To begin to repair the damage that has already been done, the GSA respectfully requests that CUSA President Alex Golovko respond to the following five points:

  1. If CUSA intends to distance itself from Rick Ross and his lyrics promoting sexual violence, why is there a CUSA table in the Atrium promoting the event and selling tickets after CUSA released its statement?
  2. Will students who have already purchased tickets be able to seek a refund from CUSA?
  3. Clarification of the timeline as presented in CUSA’s statement. If the SFUO objected to the choice of performer and was able to withdraw from Pandamonium, why was CUSA not able to do the same?
  4. Given that SFUO was able to express its opposition to rape culture and withdraw from the event while CUSA was not able to do so, what was the role of former CUSA President and current spokesperson for Urban Jamz Entertainment, Obed Okyere, in the decision to partner with Urban Jamz Entertainment for the Rick Ross concert?
  5. Public release of the contract between CUSA and Urban Jamz Entertainment.

The GSA continues to be committed to challenging sexual and gender-based violence on our campus and we will continue to work with students on campus, across the city, the province, and country to provide safe(r) and accessible spaces on our campuses.