Laura Morrison, a fourth-year Recreation and Leisure Studies student, had long been passionate about issues around sexual assault and rape culture, but she credits moving into St. Paul's GreenHouse with helping her articulate her passion, develop a far deeper understanding of the issues, and come up with an innovative solution.
“As a young woman, I had thought that the issue was largely one of misunderstanding consent, but as I talked with people who work in that space, a whole new world opened up — one that that made a lot more sense to me,” says Laura. “A lot of consent campaigns get mad and although that anger is completely valid and sometimes well-placed, it isn’t an effective communications tool and it doesn’t get at the root issue.”
Laura’s new understanding is that this is a deeply rooted sociological issue, rather than an individual crime issue.
"The root cause of gender-based violence is the perpetuation of unhealthy perspectives on masculinity and what it means to be a man.”
She decided to take a different approach, using what she has learned as a Recreation and Leisure student about the power of sport as a community development tool, and leisure as creating a safe place for people to be themselves.
When she asked herself how she might reach young boys and men who aren’t interested in these conversations and who don’t see how they might be part of the problem, she realized that sports might be a way of changing the narrative around what masculinity looks like.
Observing that sport for development has proved to be a useful tool for implementing education initiatives worldwide, Laura believes it is the perfect tool to use in re-writing traditional ideals of masculinity. Her goal is to use preventative education with young male athletes to help end sexual violence by fostering healthy attitudes of masculinity.
What this will look like — or even be called — is still a work in progress. Laura is also working on the business model.
What she does know is that this is a project she is deeply passionate about and committed to, and one that without GreenHouse would likely not exist.
"I have absolutely loved my experience with GreenHouse. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done in undergrad and I’ve learned so much about how to use my passion and expertise and not just traditional academic training. I was already passionate about this issue, but I don’t think I ever believed I would try to make it a reality. GreenHouse has pushed me to follow my passion and reach past obstacles, knowing that I have a community that is really supportive no matter what.”
-By Susan Fish