If you have been walking around UBC lately, you have probably noticed an increase of emojis plastered all over campus. If you take a closer look, you’ll find that the emojis are part of the university’s new consent campaign, educating the campus community on safe and consensual sexual relationships.
It is no secret that UBC has not had the greatest track record regarding sexual violence. In 2013, several sexual assaults occurred on campus prompting an RCMP investigation.
After these incidences took place, the university focused mainly on how to prevent these assaults using safety precautions. Last year, UBC announced that it would spend nearly $750,000 to improve lighting and visibility on campus walkways.
It’s true, the university did take some action against these assaults through security measures. However, where UBC missed the mark was recognizing that the culture of sexual assault on campus is something that did not start with this recent string of assaults.
There needed to be more discussion about personal boundaries and consent, in order to make UBC a safer space for all students. With the introduction of this new consent campaign, UBC is definitely headed in the right direction to accomplish just that.
UBC has launched the emoji posters as part of a four point plan to help students understand the importance and meaning of consent.
The posters, which can be found all over campus, use emojis to explain how consent can be different for everyone, and how to understand someone’s personal boundaries. It also tackles how consent is not just limited to a verbal “yes.” There is a grey area that many people don’t understand when it comes to respecting another’s wishes during intimate relations. The emojis are relatable, and a great visual for communicating this grey area, especially to incoming first year students who usually haven’t received comprehensive sex-ed in high school.
The other tools UBC plans to launch as part of its four-point education plan include:
- A sexual intervention plan, where professors and staff will receive proper training when a student discloses private information regarding an assault that may have happened to them.
- Community involvement, where students are taught how they can create a safe, responsible, and inclusive campus.
- Happy, healthy environment, for educating the campus community about rape culture and misogyny how that impacts and influences society.
Personally, I am excited to see that this campaign promoting consent has finally been put into motion by the university. Sexual assault is not something that just goes away when security measures are improved upon; it takes a cultural shift involving community and education in order to take positive steps to creating a safe space on campus for everyone.