We’ll be the first to admit that we often call out the University Park Undergraduate Association for focusing too little on issues of real importance to the student body or for spending its money ineffectively — on promotional items or events that seem to have little real value to those outside of student government.
But this week, there’s no question UPUA did the right thing by throwing its support behind Sexual Violence Awareness Week and another campaign aimed at combating sexual assault. At Wednesday night’s UPUA meeting, the assembly voted on two particularly important pieces of legislation related to sexual violence prevention.
Pledging $26,000 out of its annual budget — one of the largest sums of money spent on any student government initiative this year — UPUA is set to co-sponsor this year’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week, scheduled for April 6 through 12. In doing so, they join with other student organizations such as Only With Consent, Men Against Violence and the One Heart Campaign. While a significant portion of the money from UPUA will go to fund T-shirts, there’s no denying that this contribution is going toward a cause greater than clothing.
In a related effort, UPUA also decided in favor of buying 4,000 posters from the Don’t Be That Guy campaign — which is notable for its focus on preventing sexual assault by targeting its message to those who might commit assault, not those who are in danger of being assaulted.
The campaign has, in other settings, included posters that bear the messages “Just because she isn’t saying no... doesn’t mean she’s saying yes” and “It’s not sex... when he changes his mind,” among others. Sexual assault doesn’t just happen between strangers — instead, it’s often in an apartment or dorm between two people who know each other from a similar friend group or, in some cases, who are in a relationship.
We’re hopeful that this campaign will at least get some students to stop and reconsider the importance of clear consent.
Sexual violence shouldn’t end with this campaign or the awareness week, though, and any effort to
address this issue throughout the year would be well worth UPUA’s time and money — and, ultimately, in the best interest of students.