Ohio State Campaigns to Make Consent “Sexy”

Ohio State launches a "Consent is Sexy" campaign to inform students about sexual assault.(Photo: go.osu.edu/consent)
Ohio State launches a "Consent is Sexy" campaign to inform students about sexual assault.(Photo: go.osu.edu/consent)

The issue of sexual assault on college campuses has been in the news lately. The federal government recently identified Ohio State and 54 other schools being investigated for how they handled sexual assault complaints.

OSU recently launched a campaign aimed at preventing sexual violence and its raising eyebrows.

The campaign is called “Consent is Sexy”. The university has posted signs on restroom doors, on campus buses, in dormitories, and in sorority and frat houses.

  • Being asked what I like or want to do sexually is hot!
  • When you want to move to the next level, just ask!
  • Respect yourself. Respect your partner. Consent is sexy!

OSU senior, Kevin Linnevers has seen the signs around campus.

“I think it definitely helps people think about how their sexual advances affect other people and whether or not they’re welcome. And that the only way where anything like that would be okay is with consent from that other person,” said Kevin Linnevers, a senior at Ohio State who has seen the signs.

Sexual Violence Education program

Michelle Bangen coordinates Ohio State’s Sexual Violence Education program. She says students have a responsibility to others if they want to be sexual.

“Students really need to recognize and understand the different facets of consent, the different layers of consent, and how to properly look for consensual or nonconsensual situations they may see around them,” Bangen said.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1 out of 5 college women has been sexually assaulted.

Junior Juliana Wishne says signs on campus alone will not stop all unwanted sexual encounters.

“I don’t think posters themselves are enough to change the culture, I don’t know rape culture, the culture of not getting consent. But if the campaign includes going into frat houses and maybe also dorms then I think that is also a positive step that the university has taken.”

‘Not encouraging people to have sex’

OSU’s Michelle Bangen says the “Consent Is Sexy” campaign which includes workshops and a web site is not about promoting sex.

“This campaign is not encouraging people to have sex who are not already having sex. It is sex positive in that we don’t want to be the ones moralizing or wagging our finger at students who do make those decisions,” says Bangen.

Across the country, sexual assault on campus is gaining attention. University of Wisconsin graduate Laura Dunn founded the group SurvJustice which tries to prevent sexual violence. Dunn says she was sexually assaulted as a freshman. She remains skeptical that schools take the charges seriously.

“No matter how many posters a campus puts up, no matter how many events they hold, if victims who actually report never have their case investigated, if perpetrators never get meaningfully sanctioned such as through expulsion that this situation has not actually changed, it just looks better from the outside,” says Dunn.

The “Consent is Sexy” campaign comes as OSU was named as a school being investigated for mishandling assault complaints. Bangen was asked if the campaign was in response to the investigation.

A university spokesman interrupted the interview and said the campaign and the federal report are not related.

Bangen says the campaign began four months before OSU was named in the federal report.

“Again, this message is something we have been talking about for quite some time,” Bangen explains.

Police training

Recently OSU Police Chief Paul Denton participated in a sexual assault prevention training event for 100 universities held by the Ohio Alliance on Sexual Violence. Katie Hanna heads the group.

“The reason we’re here is because student activists, advocates across the country, advocates in our state, campuses have come together to say we have to do a better job. We need to make sure that just because you go to college it should not mean it increases the likelihood that you could become a victim of sexual assault,” says Hanna.

OSU’s Bangen says every student can be empowered.

“Whether students are sexually active or not they will see particular activities happening around them that they could potentially intervene and stop sexual violence from happening,” says Bangen.

  • Wu

    If this campaign is not related to the federal report, what exactly is the university doing in response to claim of mishandling assault complaints from an administrative level?

  • Psychareus

    I think we are talking about two different things here: Consent to love-making and all the nuances to that are one thing. Sexual assault and violence of any degree is about power and not about love-making. I don’t understand why OSU is not more clear on this. These posters are juvenile, in my opinion, and not nearly as sophisticated as the subject of sex and violence call for. I’m disappointed.

  • someone who reads

    What they mean is “GETTING consent is sexy.” But that’s not what they’re saying. It’s a confusing message. Not exactly the best topic to be sending out mixed signals.

  • DB Hoster

    Being asked what I like or want to do sexually is hot!
    When you want to move to the next level, just ask!

    …These are messages that give men the green light to more aggressive. They don’t say anything about relationships. Or the preferences of individual women. They assume men should be the instigators of sex instead of allowing women to move along when it’s time. They assume every woman is “into” casual sex, which is just NOT true and men should never be given the message that it’s the “norm.” I don’t believe it is. And not that it matters much, but these messages are very condescending to healthy, normal men.

    These messages, when felt, should be spoken from one person to another, in private, at a certain time.

    Finally, the words just are not true. No one has the right to “ask anyone what they like sexually” unless they are in a relationship with that person. It’s not “hot.”

    Stop farting around and deal with rapists on their turf. But stay out of the private lives of the general population; the majority know how to consent and have been doing it since the beg’g of time.