“Party With Consent:” A Movement to End Sexual Assault
by Allen Song | Carnegie Mellon University
According to New York University’s Student Health Center, one in four college-aged females report sexual assault experiences. Despite these terrifying statistics, feminist groups still have trouble raising awareness and preventing sexual assault on college campuses. One of the reasons for this is simple — forums and discussions on sexual assault issues are far from popular, and those who attend these talks are generally not the people who are causing the trouble in the first place.
A movement called “Party With Consent” proposes a solution that effectively addresses this problem at Colby College. Started last year by Jonathan Kalin, the organization “Party With Consent” implements resourceful marketing to uniquely deal with the issue of harassment and sexual assault. The entire movement is based on the idea that “college students are generally smart enough to know not to sexually assault someone,” but in certain party situations, they may have a lapse in judgment. Yet, as Kalin explains, “That does not mean partying is a bad thing — a party is essentially a celebration. However, sometimes parties enable good people to act out of character.”
After a sexual harassment case at Colby College, Party With Consent obtained funding from the Office of Campus Life and Student Government Association to buy tank tops with their tagline, “Party With Consent.” The goal of the movement was to get as many students to wear their tank tops during Colby’s Spring Fling. Eventually, because of their success, the school increased funding, enabling the organization to purchase plastic cups, sunglasses, stickers and other products all with the same tagline.
Whereas discussions and talks on sexual assault generally only reached a specific group of people, Party With Consent’s distribution of trendy items was able to penetrate the majority of the college campus. Furthermore, the ubiquitous nature of the tagline often acted as a constant reminder to students of the issue of sexual assault and consent, making these items especially useful at parties.
The benefits of Party with Consent items do not stop there. The beauty of the movement is that it creates discussion. Friends, acquaintances and colleagues of someone with a Party With Consent item can, and often do, inquire about what it means, further generating dialogue and ultimately spreading awareness on the issue of sexual assault. Furthermore, the movement eventually threw an actual party with consent called “Kegs for Konsent,” one of the more well-attended events of the year, again raising awareness on the issue of sexual assault.
Personally, these marketing aspects are what I find the most impressive about the Party with Consent movement. A lot of well-intentioned organizations have very important things to say (whether it is on the issue of sexual assault, animal rights, etc.) but often ineffectively reaches out to the populace. Similar to the KONY 2012 movement, Party with Consent takes an important message and creatively markets it so that the general population — and especially the people who need to hear it the most — can appreciate and support it.Allen Song is a Junior Chemical Engineering and Economics double major at Carnegie Mellon University. He has lived in North Carolina, California, and New York, but currently resides in New Jersey. His interests include learning to play the guitar and writing.