In elementary schools across Canada and around the world, beginning in the early 2000s, school boards amped up the War on Bullying. Extremely entertaining and informative presentations at school assemblies were mobilized to end the violence against nerds. Students learned that bystanders are the key to disrupting the cycle – if you see bullying and report it to a trusted adult, you are a hero, but if you witness bullying and do nothing to stop it, you are just as bad as the bully and you might as well kill yourself. This helpful messaging was believed to have put an end to the evil of bullying.
However, on our very own university campus, new instances of bullying are being reported. First-year Vic student Garret Levins has revealed that outdated and harmful acts of bullying are taking place at Victoria College’s own Burwash Dining Hall. A victim of such heinous acts, Levins has reached out for support after repeatedly being pressured to give up his lunch money.
“I’ve seen people being forced to turn over their lunch money in 80s movies, but I didn’t think that kind of bullying happened today,” Levins told The Boundary. “It was terrifying. I walked up to grab some food and was immediately bombarded with threatening questions. I’ve never felt so attacked in my life.” Though a number of bystanders were present, no one stood up to the bully, nor reported the violence on Garret’s behalf. “It’s as if they’ve never seen those excellent anti-bullying plays where three middle-aged people play six roles. I can’t believe nobody helped me.”
Levins’ brave choice to share his experience has encouraged others to affirm that bullying on campus is not a relic of the past. A second-year disclosed that he had been forced into using a locker at the Athletic Center, against his wishes to take his bag into the weight room, and a shocking case of cyberbullying where someone named Python repeatedly tormented a Computer Science major through the digital sphere has been uncovered. Though elementary school teachers are glad they were right about cyberbullying being a great threat, they and the wider community are dismayed at the violence occurring on a supposedly safe campus.