Peer Educators launch a campaign to examine consent culture on campus
Last week, BRAVE Peer Educators launched the Photovoice Project, a social media campaign that aims to show consent culture on Xavier’s campus. The project features submissions from nominees who share photos and describe how they show support for consent culture.
BRAVE Peer Educators are Xavier student leaders trained to facilitate power-based violence prevention workshops for and with other students. BRAVE’s goal is to create a culture that empowers students to ensure the dignity and worth of all members of the campus community through workshops and projects like this one.
Every semester, BRAVE peer educators select a project. This semester, they identified the need to gain a greater understanding of what the larger campus community knows regarding consent.
“Photovoice is an opportunity for us to gauge the campus climate,” Alexis said. “Specifically, we’re addressing #ConsentCulture, which is a challenge to the ideas of rape culture and behaviors that violate individuals’ definitions of consent. The idea is to ask a vague question and let each person define their own answer.”
This semester’s project is using the hashtag #LetsTalkAboutX, but it’s more than a play on Salt-N-Pepa’s hit song.
“I want people to realize that consent is not just about sex. It’s about our personal liberties. In fact, it aligns with the principles of autonomy and justice,” sophomore BRAVE Peer Educator Sianne Alexis said. “If we are the students that Xavier wants associated with its core values, we need to respect each other’s decisions and listen to everyone’s story. Otherwise, how can we claim that ‘we act with integrity, justice and generosity?’”
Title IX Program Director Talia Tuesta agreed with Alexis and added that she hopes the project will create conversations about consent culture that can lead to further change.
“The purpose of Photovoice is also to spark change, and we’re hoping that this project will engage enough students, staff and faculty to reflect on this topic so that we can all move towards doing our own part to end violence in our community,” Tuesta said.
Sophomore BRAVE peer educator Manasa Pradhan added that another purpose of the project was to increase awareness of places where people feel consent culture is supported.
“The idea behind the Photovoice Project was to create a network of all the spaces and ways on Xavier’s campus where people embody consent culture or where they’re able to contribute to consent culture,” Pradhan said. “It increases awareness for these spaces and shows people how they can personally engage in ending rape culture and power-based violence.”
Nominees have until April 12 to submit their entries, which consist of photos of landscapes, people, objects or whatever they feel expresses how they contribute to consent culture or where they can find support on campus. The photographs are accompanied by a short caption to explain the significance of the image.
“So far, we have received great feedback from students, staff and faculty who are excited to do this project and share their own perspective on the topic,” Tuesta said. “What’s really great about Photovoice is that you as a participant get to share your own individual perspective or experience through a photograph — so we get to see a peak of what you as an individual see.”
Other students beyond BRAVE peer educators have taken note of the project and reacted positively to it.
“It’s a great opportunity for our community to recognize some of the unseen manifestations of a healthy campus consent culture,” sophomore Kathryn Longfellow said.
Alexis echoed Longfellow’s feelings. “The other day I was talking to one of my friends who plans to submit a photo, and she was so excited,” Alexis said. “(She) and a friend are making a whole photoshoot out of it with differing outfits and locations. She is a person who was sexually assaulted and hopes that by sharing her photo she can help Xavier and the students here address the topic and understand consent.”
The Photovoice Project is one of several programs planned for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Other upcoming events include Cincinnati’s Take Back the Night on April 11, Xavier’s Take Back the Night on April 25 and an Empower Workshop on May 1.
Sophomore BRAVE peer educator Anna Moug said that ultimately, the campaign aims to raise awareness to initiate conversations about how to improve consent culture on campus.
“This campaign is important, and we want everyone to participate because sexual assault at Xavier and colleges everywhere is too common,” Moug said. “We as a community must do better to recognize our problem of (sexual assault). The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is one, which is why this photo journal to raise awareness is so important.”
The Photovoice images will be posted on @xavier_brave on Instagram using the hashtags #LetsTalkAboutX and #BRAVEPhotoVoice.
By: Brittany Wells | Staff Writer