Anti-intolerance message pushing the right buttons at Saint Mary’s University

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - A pair of professors at Saint Mary’s University have launched a grassroots awareness campaign in hopes of changing the culture around sexism and intolerance on campus.

Judy Haiven, a professor at Saint Mary's University, shows of some of the buttons she and her husband created as part of a new campaign.

Dr. Judy Haiven said she and her husband designed and crafted buttons for students, faculty, staff and administrators to wear in response to a series of misogynistic and racist tweets sent by Saint Mary’s football players last month.

“What I thought was, taking these small steps of making these buttons would encourage people to wear them and stand up and say, ‘I’m not for all the bad things, I’m for the good things,’” said Haiven on Wednesday.

The tweets from football players came about a month after Saint Mary’s made national headlines for a pro-rape chant involving hundreds of frosh students and leaders.

Several of the football players were suspended late last month, and the frosh chant inspired a lengthy report and recommendations to improve the culture of sexualized violence on campus.

But Haiven said the buttons offer every individual a personal opportunity to inspire dialogue and be part of the slow process of changing attitudes.

“It’s going to be small gestures like this that change the culture,” she said. “Not mega gestures from the athletes or mega gestures from the administration.”

So far, Haiven and her husband – another professor at Saint Mary’s – have made about 200 of the buttons and given out 150.

She said interest has been sufficient to consider having a professional manufacturer make up a larger batch.

“We’re trying to change the culture of the thinking people at the university, and there’s a lot of us,” she said. “There’s thousands, actually.”

Geographic location: Saint Mary

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