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Sexual assault awareness banners hung on campus in time for fall semester

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Student senators see their sexual assault awareness project come to fruition.

Students returning to campus, or coming for the first time, may notice teal and purple banners hung from campus light poles.

These banners are part of a joint effort between the Ohio University administration and Student Senate to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus, said Eva Holtkamp, student senate university life commissioner.

The banners are the brainchild of Kaitlyn Booher, student senate assistant chief of staff and Honors Tutorial College senator. After seeing banners hung from campus light poles, Booher resolved to disseminate sexual assault survivor advocacy information across university grounds.

Accompanied by the banners are new mirror clings bearing the message “Be Safe” that can be found inside several campus residence hall bathrooms. The mirror clings detail information about numerous resources available at Ohio U for sexual assault survivors.

Sexual assault awareness mirror cling. Photo by Kaitlyn Booher

The entire project cost $17,196.97, according to Student Senate records. The Department of Student Affairs spent $11,615.20 on the banners, while Housing and Residence Life covered 50% of the cost of the mirror clings, amounting to $1,619.77. Student Senate paid the difference.

“There hasn’t been anything this universal or anything that has had this type of a price tag on it,” Holtkamp said.

The banners — which also encourage students to intervene if they witness sexual violence — are written in multiple languages.

Sexual assault awareness banner
Sexual assault awareness banners. Photo by Sarah Donaldson

Booher, who majors in Spanish, said the multilingual aspect is important because she wants the banners to be as inclusive as possible. She assisted with banner translations with help from the office of global affairs and international studies.

Teal is the color for sexual assault awareness, Kim Castor, the director of the local survivor advocacy program said. That’s why the banners are designed with a teal and purple color scheme.

“I am so happy that the university was willing to listen to the students’ ideas about this and help make it a reality,” Castor said. “I think it truly sends a powerful message to see these banners throughout campus. Visible displays of support are so important.”

Ohio U considered pulling support for the initiative at the end of spring semester. Student senators, however, passed a bill in April to urge the university to reinstate their support, which helped advance the project.

“We could not have done this without them (the administration),” Holtkamp said. “It’s been a real testament to administrators and professors at Ohio U. They really do want you to succeed.”

During the first six weeks of the semester, a period considered the “red zone,” the banners are set to sway from their poles, but the administration plans to remove them following the festivities. Ohio U, however, will restore the banners before spring break, just in time for fest season and sexual assault awareness month.

Amid widespread support of sexual assault awareness across on campus, some students who live off campus flew sexually explicit banners during welcome weekend.

The Twitter account @BarstoolOH shared images of sheets hung on off-campus houses that displayed lewd jokes written in spray paint. One picture was picked up by the Twitter account @SheRatesDogs and shared more than 14,000 times.

Booher and Holtkamp said they both felt disheartened by the pictures that were circulating on social media.

“For me, it helped reaffirm why it was needed for our project in the first place,” Booher said. “Granted, those people were making their banners before they had seen our messaging, so now that we have our messaging up, I hope it can help counter that.”

Going forward, Booher and Holtkamp said they would love to work with Greek life and off-campus facilities to get the mirror clings hung in places such as bar bathrooms. They also said they will be meeting with Athens City Council in the next few weeks to discuss potentially bringing the campus banners to Court Street.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the “red zone” as homecoming weekend. 

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