Campus center starting sexual assault awareness campaign

Among the smattering of posters that line the walls of WKU’s campus buildings, there are some new advertisements catching eyes. These new prints have headlines in capital letters and large font with slogans like, “Consent is mutual,” and “No excuses.” 

These are just a few of the materials being used by WKU’s Counseling and Testing Center in their new consent and sexual assault awareness campaign. This campaign, which launched on April 30, uses a combination of posters and videos displayed on campus and posted on social media to raise awareness.

Karl Laves, the associate director of the Counseling and Testing Center, said that the photos and videos being used in the campaign pose interesting questions and situations that are designed to get people to challenge their assumptions.

“There’s a growing awareness on college campuses and universities that women in particular are often the victims of sexual assault,” Laves said. “One way we can reduce the instances of some of this sexual assault is by getting both men and women to understand the idea of consent.”

Elizabeth Madariaga, a sexual assault services coordinator at WKU’s Counseling and Testing Center, said that consent must be given without coercion and without the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“Consent needs to be active, respectful, voluntary, sober,” Madariaga said in an email. “Without consent, control is taken away from the victim or survivor, and it’s illegal.”

Approximately one in three women and one in seven men will have some form of non-consensual sexual experience in their lifetime, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. College-aged women in particular are four times more likely than any other age group to be assaulted, according to Madariaga. 

Laves said that the posters also challenge ideas about consent, such as “no means yes,” “it doesn’t matter what she wants” and “if she didn’t say anything, then she was okay with it.”

Bob Skipper, the director of media relations at WKU, was one of the people featured in the center’s campaign video. He said that consent is necessary because it’s important in a relationship for partners to be on the same page.

“I have become a campus persona, and I hope that my recognition will make an impact on students and that they will think before they act,” Skipper said.