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Ask First

Challenging attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate the cycle of violence

About Ask First

Ask First is a project to build a culture of respect at the University of Calgary, and tear down myths about consent and sexual violence. Together we create an environment where people are empowered to set their own boundaries, feel safe reporting sexual assault or harassment and can access resources and a community of support.

Ask First promotes a consent-based approach to sexual assault prevention, with the goal of ensuring that students know that assault is never the fault of the victim, but only occurs when an offender chooses to disregard the victim’s consent.

Ask First is now in its second phase with an ongoing commitment to:

Creating a campus community

free from harassment, discrimination and violence.

Addressing and challenging harmful attitudes

and belief systems that manifest into sexual violence; and how these systems perpetuate a continuum of violence, including sexual violence.

Fostering leadership and empowering

students to create change in their own communities by instilling a sense of self-awareness, shared responsibility and understanding of how toxic misconceptions blur boundaries.


Our perceptions of our peers’ attitudes and behaviours have a great influence on our own attitudes and behaviours. Social norms theory can be used to encourage different behaviour and is often applied to study the culture around alcohol on university campuses and has also been proven to be effective for sexual violence prevention1.

We tend to overestimate the number of our peers who value and make unhealthy choices and underestimate the number who value and make healthy choices.

Social norms use accurate information about the social context, in the form of positive group norms, to affect widespread behaviour change. We used data from a provincial assessment on sexual and gender-based violence in post-secondary education conducted by Leger (2023) to develop a marketing campaign for the second phase of the Ask First initiative. Through this approach, we aim to reduce misperceptions and further encourage healthy choices.

This campaign is positive, inclusive and empowering, while instilling a sense of self-awareness, shared responsibility and understanding of how toxic underlying beliefs and misconceptions manifest into sexual and gender-based violence.

The Facts

  • In Canada, fewer than one in ten instances of sexual assault are reported*
  • One in four women in North America will be sexually assaulted*
  • 39% of Canadian women report at least one incident of sexual assault since the age of 16*
  • In 80% of sexual assaults the accused is known by the victim*
  • Only one in three Canadians understand what consent is**

*  Statistics Canada
** The Canadian Women’s Foundation independent study

Upcoming events

Resources and support

Ask First: Creating a Culture of Consent, is a three-year project launched in Fall 2015 by the Women’s Resource Centre, University of Calgary, in collaboration with the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club. It aims to create a campus culture where victim blaming is no longer tolerated and the concept of consent is understood and practiced in the community so all students feel safe and respected.

This project is funded by the Students’ Union Quality Money.