There were at least 48 reports of college students being sexually assaulted in the month of September, according to an informal survey of news articles by The Huffington Post.
If that wasn't bad enough, the true number is probably much higher, because these were only the assaults reported to campus authorities and then picked up by local news media. A 2000 report from the National Institute of Justice indicated roughly 1-in-5 women will experience sexual violence during their collegiate career, a majority of the time among acquaintances, but fewer than 5 percent get reported to police.
The good news is some students are trying to change the culture on campuses nationwide.
“Enthusiastic consent is so important to teach because it is so contrary to what many people are taught and expect when growing up,” said Heaven-Leigh Carey, a student at the University of Oregon who works with the campus group Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team. "We live in, at best, a no means no culture, that teaches people to assume any lack of verbal resistance is equal to a full range of consent."
Carey, along with students at four other colleges, were honored Wednesday by FORCE, an anti-rape activist group that caught the Internet's attention with pranks on Victoria's Secret and Playboy to advocate for consent.
FORCE asked students to enter their "consensual-sex promoting actions" on campus by posting photos and descriptions to their Facebook page, and the posts with the most “likes” won. The group will distribute prize packs which include consent-themed condoms, temporary tattoos, stickers and stencils to each winner.
"It gives me so much hope that consent not only can, but will be popular," Hannah Brancato, co-founder of FORCE, said in an email. "And that our culture will see the day when sexual pleasure and empowerment is more common that sexual violence and coercion."
Check out the top 5 winners below with descriptions from FORCE in the captions about what the students are doing on campus:
1: UCLA’s 7,000 in Solidarity
UCLA’s 7,000 in Solidarity
With a brilliant graphic, multiple approaches, and over 1000 Facebook likes, UCLA’s 7000 in Solidarity takes first place.
UCLA’s 7000 in Solidarity gets its name from the recognizing the reality of sexual violence. According to their Facebook page, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will have survived sexual violence in college. That means 7,000 Bruins will be survivors of sexual assault by the time they leave the university.”
Students who want to stand in solidarity with their peers can pledge to:
1) Only Engage in Consensual Sexual Activities
2) Be an Effective Bystander in Preventing Others from Acting Without Consent
3) Support Survivors of Sexual Assault
2. All Students For Consent (aka ASC) at Whitman College
All Students For Consent (aka ASC) at Whitman College
Students at Whitman College turned the victim-blaming phrase “asking for it” on its head to promote consent. “The purpose of the campaign was to put a twist on the insulting phrase that has often been used in victim blaming, such as, 'She was asking for it by wearing that miniskirt,' in which the 'it' is sexual violence. However, we wanted the 'it' to mean 'consent' so that when people are asking for 'it,' what they are asking for is consent."
On “Ask For It Day," students chalked up sidewalks, postered up bulletin boards and gave students consensual (chocolate) kisses. The event culminated in students sharing their consent stories and receiving "I ask for it" temporary tattoos.
3. The Vagina Monologues at Connecticut College
The Vagina Monologues at Connecticut College
A group of over 80 Connecticut College men were asked, "Why are vagina's important to you?" The result is a video of V-men talking about healthy relationships, ending sexual violence, and, of course, vaginas. The final video will be released at the end of October. Stay tuned to the Connecticut College Vagina Monologues Facebook page for the release.
4. Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team at University of Oregon
SWAT at University of Oregon
SWAT is doing so much to promote consent, they couldn’t pick one action to enter. We pooled their likes to give the team fourth place. From coaster campaigns, to videos highlighting sex-positive communication these undergrads got it going on! Check out all they are doing at swat.uoregon.edu.
The “10 prevention tips guaranteed to work” were printed on coasters and distributed to bars and restaurants throughout Eugene as part of the ASUO Women’s Center’s Redzone campaign. The Redzone refers to the first six weeks of the fall term when sexual assault is statistically more common on college campuses. The coasters change the common message that tells people to avoid getting raped, and instead tells potential perpetrators to not rape.
The “That’s What She Said/ He Said” social media campaign was created in order to reclaim a derogatory joke and display the necessity of communication and consent. These posters aim to show that consent is not only sexy but also necessary.
5. I Always Get Consent at ASU
I Always Get Consent at ASU
According to their entry, “For the past four years, this program has educated the largest campus in the country about what sexual assault is, how to prevent sexual violence, and the importance of defying rape culture.”
Last year, “I Always Get Consent” got over 1,000 college students like consent in person with consensual cardio classes, movie screenings, T-shirts, an interactive presentation about challenging rape culture.
They say, “Consent is sexy, and we've made it our job to spread the word.”