A series of posters aimed at educating the University of Maine student body in matters of sexual consent were posted around campus this week.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” read the recent poster campaign spearheaded by the Safe Campus Project and the Peer Educator Program. Together, they formed the “Got Consent?” campaign.
Summer Sunderland of the Safe Campus Project researched and found information about a successful “Got Consent?” program at the University of New Hampshire last semester. Soon afterwards she contacted the UMaine Peer Educator Program in hopes of finding help, and the Safe Campus Project for financial support, in bringing the campaign to UMaine.
Angela Fiandaca and Sara Schewitz, members of the Peer Educator Program, agreed to help lay the groundwork to make the poster campaign possible.
Fiandaca and Schewitz spent many hours in preparation and research for the desired poster.
“[Sara and I] went around campus in the fall about four or five times,” Fiandaca said. Several students were interviewed in the vicinity of Memorial Union for their personal views about what sexual consent means to them. “We wanted to get the message out there that without getting a distinctive ‘yes,’ that sex is illegal, that’s wrong, that’s rape,” Fiandaca said.
Three questions also were asked during each short interview: “What does sexual consent mean to you?,” “How have you or your past partners asked for consent in past relationships?” and “How do you think someone should ask for consent?”
Men also were asked whether they thought they should ask for consent.
“We got a wide variety of responses,” Fiandaca said. “Although most of them agreed that they should have consent.”
From the 150 responses, six were placed on the poster. The poster displayed a title asking “Got Consent?” with six students’ typed statements backed by their photo, in protest to what UMaine students are saying about sexual consent.
“The pictures helped make the idea closer to home,” Fiandaca said. The various responses that were chosen supported the theme that UMaine students need to be concerned with sexual consent. Another poster defined how that consent must be mutual.
“A lot of people weren’t really sure what consent was,” Fiandaca said, “but that was what the project’s main goal, to raise awareness that sexual assaults happen all the time.”
Once the posters were completed, Sunderland placed the posters around the UMaine campus.
“[The posters] were placed in the dorms and other random locations just before the end of the break,” Fiandaca said.
“Our goal was to get one poster up,” Fiandaca said.
The campaign is in hopes of a continuation of placing another “Got Consent?” poster around campus soon.
“Consent isn’t just a matter of not hearing no,” Sunderland said. “It’s about making sure you have an enthusiastic, wholehearted ‘yes.’”
The interviews around campus were intended to get students thinking about consent and what it meant to them personally.
“It’s about making sure you ‘Got Consent,’” Sunderland said. “It does every body good.”