This campaign was a response to banners which pop up every fall on campuses across the country, displaying messages like “dads, drop your daughters off here.” This practice is a concrete example of how college men are taught to prove their masculinity through having as much (heterosexual) sex as possible, even through sexual coercion or rape. This creates a culture where men often pressure each other to have more sex; they keep track of and police each other’s “score”; gay, bisexual, or asexual men are seen and treated as “less than”; and women are treated as objects – literally to score.
After the success of the first Banner Up campaign in sparking greater discussion of consent, masculinity, and the role of Greek organizations in standing up to rape culture on campus and across Indiana, the fraternities at Indiana University – Bloomington put up additional banners with positive messaging supporting survivors of sexual assault for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April 2016. To tell the story of their journey to become agents of change, Breakthrough produced this video highlighting Will and Bill’s action to model for other students nationally.
To date, Will and Bill’s video has had more than 100,000 views on Facebook, and resulted in several fraternity men reaching out to Breakthrough to get ideas for replication of the action on their own campuses.
The Consent Party
A student group known as “The Consent Party” from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale reached out to Breakthrough’s Action Hotline asking for help mobilizing students on their campus. The students felt the university was not supporting survivors of sexual assault and actively tried to hide any cases that came forward or shame survivors into remaining silent.
We helped the students identify the key ways in which the university was creating a hostile environment for student survivors to seek help and receive justice. Students pointed to outdated policies, victim-blaming risk reduction trainings, little awareness about reporting options, and a slow and understaffed Title IX Office. These practices made it harder for student survivors to report, more likely these survivors would feel blamed, and easier for student perpetrators to never be held accountable.
Together, we created a list of tangible demands to transform the university’s harmful practices and culture. In order to amplify student voices and their demands, Breakthrough recommended students deliver them in person during their university’s Board of Trustees meeting in December 2015. The students would march together with signs promoting consent to the board meeting and invite local and student press to cover the event.
The students disrupted the meeting, delivered the demands, and made local and statewide news which reached 195,423 people. The day after the student’s actions, the SIU Board of Trustees promptly vowed to take action and “examine the university’s investigative and support policies surrounding sexual violence.”