April 29, 2014

Cornellians Raise Awareness of Sexual Violence Through Photo Campaign

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Students across campus are spreading awareness against sexual assault this week through a series of photo shoots for the Every1 Campaign, an organization that seeks to increase awareness of consensual sex and sexual violence.

According to Shuangyi Hou ’15, president and creative director of the ­­Every1 Campaign, the idea to use a photo series to spread consent awareness began with group founder Leah Salgado ’12 in spring 2012.

“I think the problem was that we saw a lot of these efforts being targeted only at particular communities,” Hou said. “We felt like a lot of it … wasn’t really reaching a wider audience, so [Salgado] had the idea to do these photo campaigns that pull people from a wide variety of communities and backgrounds across Cornell and then put them on Facebook.”

“I think there is definitely more awareness on campus now and there are more people who are concerned and realize how much of a problem sexual assault is and exactly what consent is.” —Bridgette Wunder ’14

Salgado said the campaign has matured over the years, and the organization has focused on how to be more direct and deliberate with the images and messages they want to convey through the photo shoots.

“We started the first photo shoot with maybe 40 people — now over 200 Cornellians have participated,” Salgado said. “Every1 is growing.”

Hou said the organization’s use of social media resulted in a “multiplier effect,” where students tagged in campaign photos would raise campaign awareness on Facebook by allowing their friends to “like” and share the photos.

However, Salgado also said she hoped that for some people, the photo series would encourage them to take more action beyond simply “liking” the photo.

While the Every1 campaign has already conducted several other photo shoots in order to raise awareness, each photo shoot has had a different theme, Hou said.

According to Hou, the organization wanted to pose several questions surrounding consent with the upcoming campaign that included “What happens when alcohol is involved?” and “What happens when someone is too inebriated to consent?”

Hou added that the organization would then only use the photos of the 87 participants who are currently signed up if they had attended a mandatory discussion on the issues at hand as the participants become “informal spokespeople” in the movement against sexual assault.

“We want everybody in the photo campaign to be a bit more educated than someone who hasn’t done it to issues pertaining to consent and sexual assault,” she said.

Discussion leader and set designer Bridgette Wunder ’14 said the discussions she has led so far in the campaign were “absolutely different” than the discussions that took place in the past.

“I think there is definitely more awareness on campus now and there are more people who are concerned and realize how much of a problem sexual assault is and exactly what consent is,” Wunder said.

The Every1 campaign has also been involved in several other initiatives on campus beyond photoshoots, according to Hou.

Earlier this semester, Hou said the organization released a short video that explored how consent may be gained through the use of body language and physical signals. Other policy initiatives that the group has taken include a push for the appointment of a sexual assault examiner at Gannett Health Services and a proposal to include a clause in all student organizations that pertains to sexual violence and harassment.

Through the photo campaign, Hou said the organization hopes to increase visibility for issues of sexual assault and sexual consent and to create a foundation to enact other changes on campus.

“The purpose of the campaign is really to send a message from one student to the rest of the student body about what consent really requires and looks like,” she said. “I think the reason we try to do that is because we want the issue of consent [and] the related issue of sexual assault to stay on everyone’s minds.”