As allegations of sexual assault and harassment have dominated headlines in recent weeks, Washington State University Vancouver is preparing to launch a statewide campaign targeting sexual violence in the state.
The university’s strategic communications program will work with the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation, a Vancouver-based nonprofit, to launch an advertising and awareness campaign. Four groups of students on Tuesday presented their proposal for a panel of judges, explaining how their plan, if chosen, would curb sexual violence in Washington.
“This is really consistent with our program’s goal to break down campus walls and to ensure our students have marketable skills,” said Liz Candello, a clinical assistant professor who teaches strategic communications at the university.
Sully Carter, a student in the class, described the presentation as larger than a school project.
“This has been something as a class we’ve all been extremely excited about,” the WSU senior said.
The project, “WA Says No More,” expands on the national work of “No More,” a nationwide public service announcement movement working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Students will develop a series of advertisements and marketing material targeted at specific groups — students listed teenagers, working-class fathers and the LBGTQ community among their audiences — to encourage conversations and understanding of what sexual assault looks like and how to prevent it.
NWCAVE President Michelle Bart called local efforts a “catalyst to bring people together.”
“We can’t be more excited to know that the legacy going forward is that students from WSU will have a mark on their community,” she said.
The presentations come at a time when women already are speaking out about sexual violence, between the international #MeToo social media campaign, which encouraged women to share their personal stories of assault and harassment, and recent accusations against prominent men in media and politics.
Since The New York Times first reported on allegations that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein raped three women and sexually assaulted and harassed dozens of others, the accusations against men in media and politics have snowballed. Among those high-profile men accused — The New York Times lists 34 — are Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore, U.S. Senator Al Franken, comedian Louis C.K. and actor Kevin Spacey.
“This comes at a time where our society is ready to listen,” teacher Candello said. “I think the walls are dismantling.”
The selected project will be announced Friday and will launch at the Women’s Festival Northwest on March 9.