Since its establishment in 1971, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) has organized annual awareness campaigns to help reduce the occurrence of sexual violence at the University of Iowa.
This fall, the campaign titled, “My Cup is Not My Consent,” used a distinctive red Solo cup as the central image, highlighting the prevalence of alcohol in campus sexual assault cases.
Susan Junis, director of Prevention Education at RVAP, said, “With having such a strong alcohol culture here, and knowing that many assaults involve alcohol, there is a need to start talking about alcohol-facilitated sexual assault in a way that attributes responsibility to the rightful party, the perpetrator.”
National statistics report that individuals ages sixteen to nineteen are more likely than any other age group to experience sexual violence in their lifetime. For many, those latter years are spent on a college campus.
One in four women, one in four trans-identified individuals, and one in seventeen men will be the victims of these offenses while in college. Comparing those figures to Iowa’s student body can translate into as many as 4,000 women, 4,000 trans-identified individuals, and 1,000 men affected.
“When people are sexually assaulted, it doesn’t mean that their life is ruined or destroyed,” said Junis, “But there are impacts that can last a person’s lifetime. If that impact is a result of something that has happened to them on campus, then the university has an obligation to address it.”
RVAP launched the “My Cup is Not My Consent” campaign this past September with the hope of catching the attention of both new and returning students as they arrived to begin the year. Primary targets included residence halls, and fraternities and sororities with established houses.
Junis credits the use of a simplified, strong message, with a memorable logo, as a major contributor to the effectiveness of the campaign.
Important to note is that the result of an increase in prevention efforts is an increase in people coming forward to report cases of sexual violence.
“It’s always going to be an ongoing aspect of our campaigns, where people are going to see our presentations, and say, ‘Oh, that happened to me,’ or, ‘That happened to my friend,’” Junis stated.
“My vision is to see a shift in our society, where we treat people who intervene in potential situations of sexual assault the same way that we treat people who intervene in cases of drunk driving,” Junis said. “And that’s only going to happen with conversations between people and friend groups, who are willing to say, ‘Hey, that’s not right. That’s something you shouldn’t do.’”
The "My Cup is Not My Consent" campaign will continue this coming academic year, beginning with a week of activities in mid-September, which will include information sessions and bystander intervention training, as RVAP partners with the Panhellenic Council and the greater Greek community to celebrate the program’s launch.
Read more about RVAP's campaign in Iowa Now.