By Saima Asad, September 13 2016 —
In the midst of Orientation Week and Kickoff celebrations on September 9, the University of Calgary Women’s Resource Centre unofficially broke a world record.
The Guinness World Record for the largest game of Red Light, Green Light is held by 1,203 students from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. On September 9, 1,365 people took part in a game of Red Light, Green Light at McMahon Stadium.
Despite besting Willamette University’s turnout, the U of C’s event will not be officially recognized for three to six months, as Guinness representatives need to examine the WRC’s documentation and evidence they beat the record.
Although the fun-filled event occurred in the midst of university celebrations, it had a serious message. The event was part of the WRC’s wider project “Ask First: Creating a Culture of Consent.”
WRC coordinator Nanako Furuyama said the event was part of the centre’s mission to reach out to the wider U of C community.
“Not all students are willing or interested in attending a session around consent or a film screening around sexual assault. We’ve been wondering what would be the best way to reach out to the wider campus community,” Furuyama said.
The Canadian government estimates one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime and only six per cent of sexual assault cases are reported to the police.
The Consent Awareness and Sexual Education club (CASE) partners with the WRC on the Ask First campaign.
“It was fantastic and encouraging to see such a large group of students having fun together while learning about the importance of consent,” said CASE president Nancy Regular. “We believe consent education in post-secondary institutions is extremely important, and this event was an important step in helping to implement that awareness.”
While the majority of participants were rowdy first-year students, the game of Red Light, Green Light drew a diverse crowd. Participants included graduate students, orientation leaders and even faculty.
“It created a sense of community,” Furuyama said.
According to Furuyama, organizers scheduled the event to occur during the Kickoff tailgate party in order to ensure a high turnout.
The idea for the game came from using a traffic light as a metaphor for sexual consent. While the game was a significant step towards initiating a conversation about sexual consent awareness, the WRC has plans to keep the momentum going.
Along with t-shirts and the pride of beating Willamette’s turnout, organizers gave out postcards with different consent scenarios to hone in on the connection between the game and the “Ask First” campaign.
Furuyama said the WRC’s ongoing initiative will feature monthly discussions about consent from different perspectives.
“Volunteers will go out and reach out to the wider campus community,” she said.