Cal Consent Campaign launches new poster series

Cal Consent Campaign/Courtesy

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A new poster series designed to educate the public about sexual assault will be distributed around campus this week as part of the Cal Consent Campaign.

The campaign, coordinated by the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission every semester and launched last fall, aims to bring awareness to issues of sexual assault and promote a culture of consent. Unlike the campaign’s posters last semester, which focused on defining what consent means during sexual activity, the new series is about how the community treats survivors.

“It’s common for survivors not to feel like people believe them,” said UC Berkeley junior Meghan Warner, director of the commission and a sexual assault survivor. “A lot of people also pressure survivors to report (sexual assault) when it really should be the survivor’s choice.”

About 280 posters will be distributed in various campus buildings, Greek housing and student cooperatives. The posters, meant to be displayed indefinitely, feature students having discussions about consent, with phrases such as “I believe you” and “Reporting is the survivor’s choice.”

According to Erica Weiss, a member of the campaign and UC Berkeley senior, the campaign is important because those who have not been sexually assaulted do not understand the complications and pressures of reporting assaults. She added that campaign members worked hard to make the posters’ language poignant and accessible.

“This is a bottom-up effort, by the students and for the students,” Weiss said. “It’s us saying we don’t want this on our campus.”

The campaign, which currently receives funding from the ASUC, will apply for funds from the residence halls next semester to print posters for the halls. The Tang Center and the Gender Equity Resource Center also printed posters and will display them in their respective common spaces.

Previous campaigns have included efforts last fall to raise awareness on sexual assault through displaying posters of people in costumes with phrases clarifying consent. Last semester, the campaign held workshops that dealt with various sexual assault issues. One focused on teaching student leaders how to respond to sexual assault, and another created a space for survivors to share their experiences and support each other.

In February, 31 current and former UC Berkeley students filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the campus mishandled sexual assault and harassment cases.

One complaint alleged that campus administrators violated federal law Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in federally funded programs and activities based on sex, and the other alleged that the campus violated the Clery Act.

Nine months earlier, nine of the 31 students filed a complaint alleging that UC Berkeley discourages survivors from reporting sexual assault and under-reports cases of sexual violence to the federal government, a requirement under the Clery Act.

Members of the campaign handed out posters to sororities Monday night. The campaign is also in the process of clarifying methods of distributing the posters to the fraternities, which have been “difficult” in the past, according to Warner.

“My hope is there’s a lot of longevity for this campaign,” Weiss said. “I don’t think the message ever grows old.”

Contact Frances Fitzgerald at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @f_fitzgerald325.