“Rap happens here”

I’ve gotten a lot of mixed feedback about the posters and chalking from various individuals and groups. For every person who is excited about the campaign, there’s another who’s infuriated. Somehow, the chalked message “Rape happens here” someone wrote outside the GIAC became “rap happens here.” Well, yes, but…

I know some people feel like this is a personal attack or that they’re being targeted, but that’s not how it was intended. In essence, everyone is a target because this is everyone’s issue. So, if you feel singled out by the campaign, take solace in the fact that every dorm, in fact every building on campus, was covered in flyers.

Rape and sexual assault happen at Haverford because, unfortunately, they happen everywhere. Rape culture is a pervasive reality that, like it or not, Haverford has not escaped. Perhaps specs don’t want to think about this when they’re touring our beautiful campus, but they should. This isn’t a negative message; it’s a message of hope for change. We shouldn’t–we can’t–pretend that rape and sexual assault don’t happen here. Only by acknowledging the problem can we begin to change it.

So let’s burst the Haverbubble. Rape happens here and it isn’t going to stop happening if we are unwilling to acknowledge it. It’s time to rise to the challenge, Haverford.

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6 thoughts on ““Rap happens here”

  1. I am totally for this campaign and am really happy that there is energy on campus to start a discussion about this all-too-prevalent issue. However, I have been upset by the campaign as well and not because I feel personally targeted.

    I am a survivor who thinks about what happened to me more than I like. While I don’t like having posters and chalk remind me of rape every time I walk outside my door, I appreciate that they remind me that I am not alone and encourage awareness to hopefullly prevent future sexual assaults.

    However, while I have learned to prepare myself for posters when I walk outside my door, I like that my hall is a place where I can be free from thinking about rape and sexual assault for a few moments when it can be so hard otherwise. However, the poster that was put in my hall made it impossible for me to even pee without remembering my experience.

    That being said, I understand that part of the campaign’s strength is its ubiquity and that it forces people who wouldn’t otherwise to think about rape and sexual assault on campus and hopefully encourage them to do something. I really like the signs and am glad that they paper the OUTSIDE of dorms and most public buildings. However, for the sake of survivors like me you might want to consider setting up a boundry and not putting up posters in the hall proper so those who can’t help but think about it at least have one space where they are not forced to.

    I say all this recognizing that those who made and put up the signs have the best of intentions and put a lot of energy into doing a good thing. I would just suggest for future reference a sensitivity to the interior of living spaces.

    • Thanks for your feedback! In the future, we’ll work on avoiding potentially triggering posters in dorms–you’re right that it should be a safe space. How do you feel about the more positive ones (I ❤ consensual sex, Hearing you say yes really turns me on, etc) in the dorms?

      In the meantime, you are more than welcome to take down the posters that trigger you on your hall.

      • Thank you so much for your response! I took down the poster on my hall and had my suitemate put it up elsewhere so that the message is still out there, just not on the hall.

        I think that the idea of having more positive posters on the hall is a really good idea. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider my feedback and work towards making the campaign even better.

  2. I don’t think people’s problem with the campaign is the message it is trying to convey, but how the message will be perceived by outsiders naive to the pervasiveness of sexual assault in our society, since at most places sexual assault is often quietly swept under the rug. These outsiders, including specs, but most importantly their parents (who are part of the decision process of where a person goes to college as long as they hold the purse), see these provocative posters and think that sexual assault at Haverford is somehow a bigger problem than it is at other schools, because we are talking about it, and wonder whether it is a safe place for them or their child to go to school as compared to a school that might have a larger problem with rape but is no frank about it like we are being as a result of this campaign. I respect everything you guys are doing, it is a wonderful cause, but these posters amount to sound bytes that have stirred the pot of panic and irrational conclusions, damaging Haverford’s reputation with outsiders instead of creating the environment for a nuanced, intellectual conversation on the issues.

  3. As a prospective student, I remember visiting with my Dad during sexual assault awareness week, when MASAR (Men Against Assault and Rape- now extinct) was sponsoring an awareness campaign targeted at men. A lot of the then-Haverboys we saw walking around were wearing t-shirts boasting something to the effect of “It’s up to me. Consent.” My dad was SO impressed not only that the college was taking preventative action (making him more confident to ship his only daughter 3,000 miles away from him and his shotguns), but especially that students cared enough for each other to have men stand up for what is typically deemed a “women’s issue.”

    So yes, you are very right. These are powerful messages for prospective families to see. But what I want to know is, what happened to MASAR? What happened to the campus I expected to attend, where people cared SO much about each other, about the honor code, and about social justice, that when someone brings to light an idea like “consent is sexy,” people buy t-shirts in support rather than tearing down signs in denial?

    Yes, I am aware that Haverford was probably not SO different then, and that my opinion has been severely altered by my experiences here. However, think about how POSITIVELY powerful that campaign was for me and my father. That campaign said to us “Haverford is safe. Haverford cares.” What positive message could we be sending to families instead, if only they were true? How could the current campaign be different if, 1-2 years ago when the administration organized a committee of students to help with the overhaul of sexual assault policies in the wake of the Go! Boards letter, they had listened to the students’ input? What if they had recognized the institutionally supported culture of silence and listened to student survivors when these issues were raised the FIRST time? Haverford could instead be a model of campus sexual violence prevention, just as our Honor Code is a model of self-governance for other institutions. I can see the the Haverford homepage now: [Giant picture of Haverford students posting sex-positive awareness posters] — “Haverford students are actively engaged in all aspects of campus life, bringing home the College’s commitment to social justice. Students have played an integral part in designing campus safety policies, which lead the nation in their preventative nature.”

    Haverford has had plenty of opportunities to adequately and respectfully respond to student concerns and their legal obligations under Title IX and the Clery Act. There is still an opportunity to turn this into a PR dream, and I truly hope the administration takes full advantage. My Dad always used to tell me that if I ever find myself behaving in a manner I wouldn’t want others knowing about, then I probably shouldn’t be behaving that way in the first place. If the administration doesn’t want prospective families to know that the college’s policies and culture facilitate sexual violence, then they should fix those policies. If they don’t want prospective families to know that at our Quaker-founded college students must write letters, poster, blog, Facebook, petition, and table to be heard, then they should start listening. Rape happens here. Prevention doesn’t. Now who’s listening?

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