Penn’s Abuse and Sexual Assault Prevention group celebrated its annual “Got Consent?” photo campaign at a launch party Wednesday evening. The group, affiliated with the Penn Women’s Center, debuted posters of over 60 student groups on campus stating what consent means to them.
The number of campus groups that participated in ASAP’s campaign is double what it was last year, a fact that Isabella Auchus, the chair of ASAP and a College senior, attributes to greater outreach by the group and an increased awareness of consent issues on Penn’s campus.
“All of these issues that have happened, like Brock Turner, have brought to light rape culture and sexual violence and consent,” Auchus said. “People are starting to talk about it in their communities even if they aren’t a group centered on these kinds of issues, and they’re learning that it’s more pervasive.”
ASAP’s executive board began outreach for the campaign as soon as the fall semester began, but Outreach Chair and College junior Caroline Ohlson said throughout the past year, she’s heard interest from student leaders in participating for a second year.
“It’s definitely something that people have come to look forward to in the fall and to associate with ASAP,” Ohlson said. “I think a lot of people really care about the issue and want to be involved, but not everyone can designate the time to come to ASAP every week.”
On Wednesday evening, though, many campus leaders gathered at Penn Women’s Center to demonstrate support for ASAP’s campaign and to show that the issue of consent is important to their respective groups.
College junior Silicia Lomax attended as the vice president of the dance group Strictly Funk and was excited to participate in the campaign, especially as a representative of a group in the arts.
“It is still something that everyone should be aware of regardless of what group you represent,” Lomax said. “So yes, we dance, but it’s an expressive art form where we actually have done things that represent domestic violence or sexual assault.
“Especially within a college campus like this, it’s important to try and get the word out to as many people as possible because then you can spread it from there.”
This focus on what Auchus refers to as intersectionality has been at the core of ASAP’s conversations this semester. Instead of centering on exclusively rape culture in a specific context, ASAP’s weekly meetings have largely sought to broaden the range of topics discussed.
“Sexual violence affects different communities and different races and religions,” Auchus said. “Our discussions this year draw from all different aspects, not solely rape culture or sexual violence on campus. It’s a broader range of how these things interconnect and why that’s important.”
Penn Hillel’s Engagement Associate, Mia Yellin, represented Hillel at the launch party and was enthusiastic about the prospects of the campaign, especially on social media.
“The influence of social media campaigns is so prominent in seeing shifts in cultures on campus,” Yellin said. “This kind of campaign, where you have people putting up pictures and saying ‘This is what we call consent’ and having campus organizations all take part in it is a great way of utilizing social media to start the conversation and hopefully shift campus culture.”
The importance of the movement — be it online, on campus and elsewhere — is not lost on Kara Hardie, College sophomore and class internal chair.
“There’s a huge momentum toward wanting to be involved and show support for these issues on campus,” Hardie said. “This is a pretty tangible example of that happening.”
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.